A U.S. federal government proposal to collect social media identities of almost everyone who seeks entry into the country has been described as a "chilling" encroachment on freedom of speech and association.
We reported back in December 2016 that the United States had begun asking foreign travelers for their usernames for Instagram and other social media services in a new "optional" section of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (which allows citizens of 38 countries to visit the U.S. for 90 days without a visa).
He says it could be a tough ask for tired travellers to accurately front up with so much information.
The government intends to require applicants to submit their usernames for certain social media networks and give them the option to submit usernames for additional networks. "I'm not sure that everyone could remember every site that they have in the last five years". The requirement is significantly broader than previous filings, which had made disclosure voluntary and applied to only a portion of visa applicants identified for extra scrutiny.
President Trump threatens to veto $1.3 trillion spending bill
The $1.3 trillion omnibus legislation passed both chambers of Congress after lengthy negotiations between leaders of both parties. However, Friday afternoon he agreed to sign the bill, because it would increase military spending, something he has championed.
The public will have two months to comment on the proposal before it makes a decision.
The tougher proposal comes after President Trump promised to implement "extreme vetting" for foreigners entering the USA, which he said was to combat terrorism. The request to obtain such information from visa applicants is subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget.
Civil liberties groups have condemned the policy as an invasion of privacy that could damage free speech.
This comes amidst reports of a massive data sharing of millions of social media users for the objective of influencing election results. The only exceptions are those traveling on diplomatic and official government visas.