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Homeland Security Secretary floats plan to ask US visitors for social media passwords

John Kelly Discusses Operational Implementation Of Trump Immigration Ban Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Meeting with Congress on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggested the United States could soon ask international visitors for passwords to social media accounts.

"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 about the potential vetting measure, in a moment noted by NBC News. "If they don't want to cooperate then you don't come in." The idea was one of several ideas being considered, according to Kelly, who was recently appointed by President Trump.

The idea is not an entirely new one. Since Trump took issued an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, there have been increased reports of border security agents asking for access to travelers’ devices. But directly asking for passwords would seem to be a major step.

Still, the US may have been trending in that direction for some time, with the Obama administration reportedly considering similar measures. Late last year, the US instituted a new, “optional” policy, asking travelers to disclose their social media accounts.