Civil liberties advocates are criticizing a federal proposal that calls for those visiting the U.S. under the visa waiver program to provide the names they use on social media, according to NBC News
The proposal would add a social media section on visa applications that would ask for applicants to "optionally" give out their profiles on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
The social media proposal is a method to stay ahead of terrorist plots in anticipation of possible terror suspects posting on social media in advance of attacks. Customs and Border Patrol said, "collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process."
The proposal would not apply to visitor's private posts and would only apply to the visa waiver program, which allows anyone from 38 countries to allow in the U.S. for 90 days with no visa.
Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan told NBC News that he believes the proposal to be "lame at best."
"The Customs proposal gives the illusion that we are doing something to prevent terrorist attacks," he said.
Buchanan has a bill awaiting a decision in Congress that would require social media screening for anyone wanting to enter the U.S., not just visitors.
Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said the proposal contains "a lot of unanswered questions."
Jessica Vaughan, the policy studies director at the Center of Immigration Studies, noted that it would be a simple task to avoid detection of activity on social media,
"It would have to operate under the honor system," she added.
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said that it appears likely that the social media addresses that get collected will not be used only to thwart terrorism.
"There would be scrutiny, but this proposal will not help, it will inject more noise. And that's not how we treat visitors in the U.S."
Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul approves of the proposal, and calls it "a small step in the right direction."
The Border Patrol's new chief, former FBI official Mark Morgan, is facing a battle
to improve relationships with people in communities along the border.
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