Visitors to the USA under a visa waiver program are being asked by the Department of Homeland Security for information on their social media accounts, a plan that has drawn criticism from civil rights groups for its potential encroachment on privacy.
This is why back in June, it was reported that USA customs was considering the idea of requesting social media information from foreign visitors to the country. It asked applicants to volunteer their social media account identifiers, as part of the agency's efforts to enhance its vetting of people who travel to the US.
Travellers arriving into the United States on the visa waiver programme, which enables people to travel to the USA for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa, are now being given the "option" to "enter information associated with your online presence", a U.S. government official told Politico on Thursday.
DHS IDGNS ESTA form asks for social media information from visitors to the U.S
Earlier this year, US Customs and Border Protection proposed using this as a system for helping to identify potential terrorists entering the country.
The proposal by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in June had faced months of opposition from tech giants and privacy activists. A spokeswoman told Politico on Thursday that the new policy is meant to "identify potential threats".
It asked for details of social media accounts, including Google+, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. If you thought that maybe this was a bit controversial, it's too bad because in a report from Politico (via Engadget), the proposal has been greenlit by the Department of Homeland Security.