There’s a new requirement for traveling to the United States: Turn over your social media account names — all of them, from the past five years, possibly to be stored for decades more.

A State Department policy that went into effect recently requiring visa applicants to provide authorities with their online identifiers is, in some ways, not a startling change. The Obama administration already asked some visitors to voluntarily provide their platform handles, and even when account names are not shared, authorities obviously have the wherewithal to seek out applicants’ public activity online. Officials in this administration had also started to require some categories of visa applicants to hand over the data. That affected about 65,000 people per year. Today’s policy will affect about 15 million.

It is the vast reach of the rule that has alarmed observers, along with the absence of an explanation of how the information will be used. There are certainly circumstances under which consular officials reviewing visa applications would want to look at a would-be traveler’s social media to verify a fact or to follow up on a security concern. But systematically reviewing the accounts of anyone who seeks to enter the United States is, according to the government’s own pilot programs, unlikely to be effective — and likely to chill speech on communications platforms essential to everyday life.

The chilling risk is heightened under a White House that has given people reason to think they should be careful. President Donald Trump started his campaign by declaring that Mexicans are rapists. He kicked off his time in office by trying to keep many Muslims from entering the country. One criterion his administration hopes to consider in an overhauled immigration system is whether a citizen-to-be has demonstrated an interest in “patriotic assimilation.”

A Yemeni journalist working for The Associated Press was recently denied a visa to travel to New York to accept the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. The State Department had no comment on the reason. A negotiator for Palestinian rights who has long been visiting this country also had her application rejected.

The security imperative of any vetting mechanism must be weighed against the risk it poses to keeping the United States open to people of all countries, cultures and political persuasions. Before it asks for millions of people’s personal information, the Trump administration should prove it has gone through that calculation and come out on the right side. Its record makes that impossible to take on faith.

— The Washington Post

(1) comment

Schreff

One major factor of why the USA is divided is the lies and purposeful twisting of facts that we now know is " FAKE NEWS ". This DCSwamp Washington Post article is just another example...a quote from the article states " President Donald Trump started his campaign by declaring that Mexicans are rapists.".......This is a lie in that never did President Trump mention that ALL Mexicans are rapists.....Here is his campaign rally remarks, In June 2015, while Trump was a presidential candidate, he said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best." He added: "They're sending people that have a lot of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Fake News happens because the new Socialists Demorats control the news media. Freedom of the Press has turned into Freedom to use Propaganda to win elections. This is far worse than any interference by the Russians in our election process and is poisoning the minds of our young adults. This article is proof positive that Fake News has replaced journalism in 90% of the newspaper in our Country and it is destroying and dividing our Nation. All Americans have a responsibility to keep informed and vote based on what would be best for our Country. This is Democracy in action but unfortunately this has been abused by media and is why I have, " The Fake News Blues ".

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