The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has introduced a rule that would add a social media section to I-94W and Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications. According to a report from the British Broadcast Channel, the CBP plans to add a section to both applications asking applicants for social media platforms they use and for an account identifier, such as a user name.
According to CBP, the social media section would be optional and would be used for vetting purposes and contact information by the agency. A similar proposal was offered in 2014 but later abandoned for Visa applications. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has gone back and forth about vetting immigrant social media posts, particularly after the Department was criticized after the San Bernardino shooting.
The New York Times reports that a pilot social media screening program is already being utilized for fiancé visas and actually just ended its run this past June. Three other pilot programs are also being tested but details about those were not made available. While proponents point to additional information about potential immigrants as an advantage of screening social media, But opponents point to privacy concerns over having immigrants handover their social media information to the federal government.
The rule has been proposed by DHS and is now in the public comment phase. After the sixty day public comment, DHS will decide whether to go forward with the proposed changes. Check our blog for updates to this story.
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