Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

U.S. Customs Proposes Collecting Social Media Handles of Foreign Travellers

Mario Trujillo, the Hill:

Foreigners traveling to the United States without a visa would be asked to provide the government with their social media handles under a new proposal from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The optional question on arrival and departure forms would ask about a traveler’s “social media identifier,” but not passwords. People could leave it blank. The extra information would be used for vetting and contact information, according to the proposal.

“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide [the Department of Homeland Security] greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case,” according to the proposal.

Earlier today, I had some down-time at an event I was attending, so I tried to connect to the venue’s WiFi network. The connection page I was presented with had the usual checkbox for the terms and conditions, but below that were fields for my name, email address, and postal code, along with checkboxes to subscribe to various newsletters.

It took me a minute to realize that only the terms and conditions checkbox was required; the email-related fields weren’t, but were added to trick guests into subscribing.

Official forms have far greater implications. They should require no more information than they absolutely require. How many people plotting “nefarious activities” are really going to write their Twitter account on this form, anyway?