Lakhs to be affected as USA seeks Visa applicant's social media info

A USA 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.

Kenyans planning to go to the United States will be required to submit their social media accounts' history for the past five years in a raft of new requirements by the Donald Trump administration.

The proposal would not affect citizens from countries which the USA grants visa-free travel status - among them the UK, Canada, France and Germany.

He says it could be a tough ask for tired travellers to accurately front up with so much information.

There is also no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair, especially in the absence of criteria to guide the use of social media information in the visa adjudication process. "I'm not sure that everyone could remember every site that they have in the last five years". However, citizens from non-exempt countries like India, China and Mexico could be embroiled if they visit the United States for work or a holiday.

Now that request for social media handles may soon become much less optional and much greater in scope.

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After this proposed issue the public would have around 60 days to propose to this issue.There will be one question which responds to the applicant which identifies the provider and preceding the day of the application.

If approved, applicants will also be asked if they have been deported or removed from any country and whether family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

Approximately 15 million visa applicants could be affected by this change.

The administration has been pursuing "extreme vetting" of foreigners as a centrepiece of its immigration and national security policy, including through the contentious travel ban that remains the subject of heavy litigation.

"People will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official", said Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Department of Homeland Security has been moving to include and expand review of social media information as well.

  • Sonia Alvarado