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State Department plan would require some visa applicants to list social media handles

State Department plan would require some visa applicants to list social media handles

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The Department of State has proposed asking a small number of visa applicants to supply five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses, and phone numbers, Reuters reports. The change would affect applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities,” which would supposedly apply to 65,000 applicants a year. They would not need to provide passwords to the listed accounts.

The proposal, which is posted here, is part of a larger attempt to ramp up the “extreme vetting” that President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail. In addition to social media details, it would add requirements to list the names and dates of birth for siblings. And it would require applicants to list biographical details like addresses and travel histories for longer periods of time — up to 15 years back.

The rule would apply to an estimated 65,000 applicants per year

It’s also the latest move to make social media check-ups a larger part of border security. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson privately proposed a mandatory social media check for visa applicants who had ever visited ISIS-controlled territories, though he later rescinded those instructions. And in late 2016, the Department of Homeland Security started collecting “optional” social media details from some travelers crossing the border, sometimes highly aggressively.

The State Department is currently accepting public comments on the proposal, and will do so until May 18th. On that date, it’s asking the US Office of Management and Budget to grant a 180-day “emergency” approval of the plan.