US Customs and Border Protection is pushing a proposal to collect the social media accounts of all foreign travellers entering or leaving the country.
Customs says it is needed to help the agency comb through those “possible nefarious activity and connections.”
On Friday, a proposal was entered into the Federal Register that would add an optional question to travel forms: “Please enter information associated with your online presence – Provider/Platform and Social Media identifier.”
Those same forms would have blank spaces for travelers to fill in their user names and what social media platform he/she was using.
Under the new proposal, the question would appear on arrival/departure papers for non-citizens at the border – and would also be on the electronic forms for travellers entering the United States on a visa waiver.
US Customs says it will add a new level of scrutiny to potential visitors, but the plan does not specify how exactly Customs would screen the names and social platforms.
“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyse and investigate the case,” the proposal said.
Customs screening processes currently include several database checks, as well as interviews and fingerprinting.
The proposal is offering the public a 60 day open window to comment on the plan by writing to the agency’s Washington, DC office before it is formally considered.
The motion to push the proposal forward comes after officials worldwide have called for stronger social media surveillance in modern day global terrorism issues.
After the attack on Paris in November of last year, the FBI, NYPD and the French governments demanded stronger oversight involving online extremism.