Tags: Homeland Security | Immigration | state department | social media | visa | applicants | immigrants

State Dept. Looks at Monitoring of Visa Applicants' Social Media Accounts

Image: State Dept. Looks at Monitoring of Visa Applicants' Social Media Accounts
 U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (Paul J. Richards/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 14 Dec 2015 09:14 PM

In light of the San Bernardino terror attacks that killed 14 people, the federal government will explore the possibility of more closely monitoring the social media accounts of visa applicants to the United States, a State Department spokesman says.

"It's safe to assume that in the wake of this tragic incident that we're all going to be taking a hard look at the social media aspect of this," John Kirby told reporters Monday, NBC News reports.

Consular officers are already allowed to search applicants' social media accounts if they see it as "valuable or necessary" but it is not a mandatory policy, NBC reports Kirby as saying.

That statement directly contradicts a claim made by a former government official, who told ABC News that social media postings of applicants are, as a matter of policy, not checked due to civil liberties concerns.

John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis and now a national security consultant for ABC News, said there is a secret U.S. policy that prohibits such searches, and that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in early 2014 refused to overturn that policy, fearing "bad public relations" for the Obama administration, ABC reports.

"During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process," Cohen said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said Monday that his panel is working on a bill to tighten the screening processes for visa applicants, Politico reports.

The Virginia Republican said the bill would address the "fiancée visa" that allowed San Bernardino killer Tashfeen Malik to enter the country.

The future wife of co-shooter Syed Farook "reportedly posted her radical views on social media prior to obtaining a visa, yet it seems that the Obama administration’s policies may have prevented officials from reviewing her account," Goodlatte said in a statement, Politico reports.

"The Obama administration’s lack of common sense necessitates legislation to ensure proper vetting of visa applicants, including those applying for a K-1 visa, seeking to come to the United States."

"It’s difficult to say exactly what [went wrong] and how, but for an individual to be able to come into this country – one who the FBI has maintained had terrorist tendencies or affiliations or sympathies at least for a couple years, and then to propagate an attack like that on our own soil, obviously, I think it’s safe to say there’s going to be lessons learned here," State spokesperson Kirby said Monday, ABC reports.

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In light of the San Bernardino terror attacks that killed 14 people, the federal government will explore the possibility of more closely monitoring the social media accounts of visa applicants to the United States, a State Department spokesman says. It's safe to assume...
state department, social media, visa, applicants, immigrants, moniter
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2015-14-14
Monday, 14 Dec 2015 09:14 PM
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