On Friday, the State Department of the United States proposed new rules that would require those entering the country and applying for a visa – immigrant and non-immigrant alike – to write down any social media handles they’ve been affiliated with for the past five years. This is in addition to “telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities,” Bloomberg reports.
The New York Times points out that similar rules proposed last September would have already applied for immigrant visas, affecting about 710,000 people per year. With these new rules, however, they estimate that now 14 million people a year would be handing over their social media information the United States government. That number already discounts travelers that don’t currently require a visa to enter the country, from a specific list of 40 countries including Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Slovakia, and others.
While these rules are currently only in the proposal stage, and the public will have 60 days to comment (though the utility of public comments has not exactly been proven in the past), strong reactions have come from across the internet and international communities, with comments from the ACLU and The Guardian.
The proposed rules reflect the “extreme vetting” proposed by President Trump and the views of former secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, who, in a House Committee meeting last year, proposed that visa vetting should include tweets and passwords to social media accounts. “If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come,” Kelly said.