Ready to surrender social media passwords to visit the US?

by Shane Dillon

AT THE time of writing, the Trump administration is still mulling over a new ‘extreme vetting’ policy that, if passed and applied, could make travel to the States problematic for many people, at least on a point of principle.

In short, travellers could be asked to hand over their social media passwords and phone contacts for vetting, with the Wall Street Journal quoting administration officials as saying that financial information and ideological information could also be requested.

In short, no passwords – no entry, as the boiled-down advice from assorted civil liberties lawyers points out, while being refused entry Stateside would present a raft of problems for any detained travellers.

“Could” is the key word here, as nothing has yet been decided or confirmed – the idea is floating about, although the US Customs and Border Patrol have already piped up with: “All international travellers arriving to the US are subject to US Customs and Border Protection inspection …

“Keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the US.”

While absolutely nobody could begrudge America – or any country – running a thorough border check and maintaining a vigorous look-out for problematic or potentially dangerous visitors, many people would quite rightfully baulk at handing over such intimate information to a foreign (or domestic) government, not least the vast majority of Irish and other visitors just looking to take a holiday or visit family members in America.

If such an extreme vetting gets the go-ahead soon, plenty of visitors are likely to be in for a rude shock when they arrive across the pond, not least those who refuse hand over their precious data. Watch this space …

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