It has been reported that The State Department is proposing that all US visa applicants need to disclose their social media handles to the US government. It proposes that nearly every individual applying for a US visa be required to hand over any social media handles used on certain platforms in the past five years, as well as submit any telephone numbers and email addresses used during that same time period. Evgeny Chereshnev, CEO and Founder at Biolink.Tech commented below.
Evgeny Chereshnev, CEO and Founder at Biolink.Tech:
“An attempt to get access to social networks for visa purposes is insanely wrong, and is a clear step to a police state – think ‘1984’ by George Orwell. When the Government tries to access and control the past and present of certain people, they would also be able to control and forecast someone’s future. This is unconstitutional, inhuman, and is a total violation of human privacy and freedom.
When US citizens are providing data to their government using an American social network such as Facebook, this would be considered a domicile affair. However, a vast amount of social media users are foreign citizens, which means they have to follow their own local laws, such as the imminent GDPR in Europe. Other countries, such as Singapore, Israel, Japan, Russia and China also have their own laws, so when the United States requires private information from foreign citizens, it’s technically illegal as it is a violation of home policies from most countries.
Then you have countries like China and Russia, which have their own huge social networks. Citizens of these countries could potentially be required to share their details of those too. This proposal is a direct violation of international legislation and local data management laws, such as GDPR. Legally, a country can’t get access to this data as it doesn’t belong to their citizens.
What happens to those people who don’t use social media? They are being put in a position where they have to explain themselves to the Government, but why should they have to? It is their human right to choose to not have a digital trail. Some people are just very private, prefer paper books to digital ones, paying by cash etc. In this new proposal, they could automatically be considered a terrorist.
Terrorism is an absolutely awful thing, but it is not the problem here; it’s being used as an excuse. More people are killed in car accidents each year than in terrorist attacks, so the Government is using an excuse that, whilst truly bad at its core, few people would object to.
This is not just about people having to share their social media history; it’s giving the Government a set of tools to manipulate your behaviour.”