If you’re a foreign citizen hoping to visit the United States, you may have to give your Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit passwords to the federal government.
One of the “extreme vetting” measures that’s starting to come to light is a controversial social media policy that John Kelly is considering implementing for anyone wishing to obtain a U.S. visa. NBC News reported that while testifying before Congress, Kelly said he believes a policy of requiring social media passwords to step onto American soil would be necessary to preserve national security.
“We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday. “If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”
Kelly expressed concern that current vetting procedures rely heavily on documentation and statements provided by the visa applicant, and that acquiring social media passwords would be a way of verifying if what an immigrant is saying is actually true.
“When someone says, ‘I’m from this town and this was my occupation,’ [Homeland Security officials] essentially have to take the word of the individual,” Kelly said. “I frankly don’t think that’s enough, certainly President Trump doesn’t think that’s enough. So we’ve got to maybe add some additional layers.”
To be fair, the Trump administration isn’t the first to propose that immigrants give up their social media passwords. In late 2015, when refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan were fleeing their home countries in droves, the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security considered forcing all those seeking entry into the U.S. to give the government full access to their social media accounts. However, the policy — which was first drafted in 2011 — was never implemented.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) December 17, 2015
Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.