An important innovation for travelers in the United States: to obtain a visa for the U.S. now you need information on your social media. From May 31 it becomes official: if you want to have the documents in order you must provide the U.S. State Department your (possible) social media references that you have used in the last five years. In addition to email addresses and phone numbers. The decision of the Trump administration, which takes up an act initiated by Obama, does not fail to raise controversy over citizens’ rights and privacy.
Compulsory information on social media to enter the U.S.
In fact, for some time now, the cards for entering the United States (the Eesta) have contained entries requesting the inclusion of social data. But now the practice becomes mandatory. It is expected that the new rule will affect 15 million people who apply for visas to enter the United States every year. The Trump administration therefore makes mandatory what Obama had already included as a volunteer in the information to be provided to customs.
US visa and citizens’ privacy
“National security is our top priority,” explains a note from the State Department, “we are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.
Eesta’s compilers know that they need to communicate a range of sensitive information (which is also the case in other countries), such as contacts on US territory, travel plans, family member information and previous addresses from all visa applicants. Social profiles are now added.
There is no shortage of criticism of the violation of citizens’ rights: the American Civil Liberties Union has told the New York Times that “This is a dangerous and problematic proposal, which does nothing to protect security problems, but raises significant privacy concerns and First Amendment issues for citizens and immigrants”.