US govt starts quizzing foreign travelers about social media accounts
WASHINGTON: Foreigners travelling to the United States now must be prepared to elucidate information about their social media to the security officials.
Such queries will be asked from foreigners under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to scrutinize their social media info like Facebook, Twitter and more in a move to spot security related threats, reported the CBS News.
In June, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed adding an optional question to travel authorization applications. 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.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the addition of the question this month, reported the CBS News citing their sources.
The question is marked as “optional” on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application, and the new change only applies to people who come to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. and stay there without a visa for up to 90 days.
The proposal by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in June had faced months of opposition from tech giants and privacy activists. It got its approval from the Department of Homeland Security just a few days ago.
The new question, according to the Federal Register, reads, “Please enter information associated with your online presence–Provider/Platform–Social media identifier.”