The United States government approves more than 10 million visa applications each year, seeing 77.5 million visits in 2015. A new security measure in approving visas has now been proposed that would allow border control to start collecting social media account information for visa applicants.
The new visa screening process is a proposal by the U.S. government that is thought to be able to provide an enhanced knowledge-base to the Department of Homeland Security, as the U.S. Federal Register states that “collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.”
The following question would be added to both the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) and I-94W forms: “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”
The proposal is under consultation with the U.S. government taking comments until August 22, at which time further action will be announced.
The U.S. DHS is said to have pilot programs currently active that scan a limited amount of social media posts, and after such terrorist attacks as San Bernardino in California, where social media proved to be a valuable part of investigations.