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Politico: CBP Wants Social Media Info From Chinese Travelers

Image: Politico: CBP Wants Social Media Info From Chinese Travelers

Customs check at U.S. airport. (AP)

By Eric Mack   |   Friday, 17 Feb 2017 04:15 PM

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to add an "optional" question of China passport holders traveling to the U.S., asking them to outline their social media "handles," Politico reported Friday.

"Please enter information associated with your online presence – Provider/Platform – Social media identifier," the question will read, according to the CBP notice set publish Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The question will be posed in the online vetting system for Chinese visitors and long-term business visas.

"This data will be used for vetting purposes, as needed, providing highly trained CBP officers with timely visibility into publicly available information on the platforms associated with the social media identifier(s) voluntarily provided by the applicant, along with other information and tools CBP officers regularly use in the performance of their duties," the notice read.

"The officer will review said platforms in a manner consistent with the privacy settings the applicant has chosen to adopt for those platforms. It will also help distinguish between individuals with similar characteristics, such as similar names, and provide an additional means to contact an applicant if needed."

The question will be "clearly marked as optional," and those refusing to answer can still apply for U.S. entry "without a negative interpretation or inference"; although, critics wonder whether it will be effective if those "looking to hide something could decline to provide their social media handles or 'forget' to list one of them," Politico reported.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said he wants the visa application process to include social media information, including passwords, in "extreme vetting" procedures to screen for terrorists.

"If they come in, we want to say, what websites do they visit, and give us your passwords, so we can see what they do on the internet," Kelly said, per Politico.

The above CBP notice does not ask for passwords, but online privacy activists see "optional" request as a first step in a more invasive direction.

"This is the first concrete proposal that we've seen," said Emma Llanso, from the Center for Democracy and Technology, adding it might lead to other countries asking the same of American travelers abroad.

"So many countries around the world grant visas or visa waiver on a reciprocity basis, if the U.S. starts demanding greater information from different countries or different groups of travelers, we should not be surprised at all if other governments do the same thing," she told Politico.

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to add an "optional" question of China passport holders traveling to the U.S., asking them to outline their social media "handles," Politico reported Friday.
politico, customs, social, media, china, travelers
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2017-15-17
 

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