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Millions of travelers entering the U.S. may soon be asked to list which social networks they use and their “social media identifier”—that’s bureaucrat-ese for username— according to a proposal submitted to the Federal Registrar by Customs and Border Protection last week.
The proposal would affect those seeking visa waivers, which allow people from certain countries to remain in the United States for up to 90 days without applying for a visa. Collection of the information would be optional, the Department of Homeland Security insists, and used “for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information.”
Speaking to the BBC, Chief Technologist at the Centre for Democracy and Technology Joseph Lorenzo Hall said it most people would likely answer the “optional” question out of fear of their application being rejected and that the measure will have a deleterious effect on democracy.
“Democracy in general requires having spaces free from government scrutiny and increasingly social life happens online,” he told the BBC.
“We would have a poor society if people were chilled from participating in social activity online so I really hope they rethink this.”