Trump Proposes Including Chinese Citizens Visiting the U.S. In Social Media Checks By Customs
Recently there has been a lot of talk about the possibility of requiring social media passwords for visitors coming to the United States. Testimony by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a Congressional hearing that disclosing social media passwords may soon become a requirement for visitors to the country. Last week, we reported on the story of a natural-born American citizen and Global Entry enrollee being detained by Customs and Border Protection until he handed over the password to his telephone.
It now appears that the Trump administration is considering including Chinese citizens visiting the United States on a list of potential people who would be asked to provide social media handles, like Facebook and Twitter, to CBP officials.
According to Politico,
Answering the question would be “optional,” CBP said in a notice set for publication Tuesday in the Federal Register. Those who don’t wish to answer will have their travel requests processed “without a negative interpretation or inference,” the notice said.
The Obama administration rolled out a similar, voluntary, social-media screening effort late last year for travelers eligible to enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program, which includes many European countries and other highly-developed nations.
The move to cover Chinese visitors in the social-media-focused screening comes as Trump administration officials are publicly discussing far more intrusive steps to vet foreigners seeking to enter the U.S., including asking for social media passwords.
This is not entirely a new idea, as the Obama Administration had a similar proposal that it put into place last year. Under both the Obama and Trump Administrations, it is said to be voluntary. However, given the path that this seems to be taking, it will be interesting to see if voluntary soon becomes required. Additionally, does not handing in social media handle information negatively impact ones chances of being granted access to enter the country? What truly worries me the most about this is the the prospect that China will reciprocate. I would be leery to hand over any social media information to Chinese officials before traveling to China. We shall see, but this is another story in a long line of stories where the government keeps trying to get its hands on more and more information.