US State Department requires social media and other info for visa applications

The US State Department now requires almost all visa applicants to provide social media platform account names (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) for the previous five years, as well as e-mail addresses and phone numbers (some diplomatic and official visa types are exempt) for those five years. According to the State Department, this additional information, in the past only required of persons identified as needing extra scrutiny, ‘will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity’.

However, others are concerned that this policy ‘poses a serious threat to freedom of expression’. The action also puts privacy at risk, by creating a database of very personal details about these applicants, especially since it is unclear how the data will be stored or shared beyond the visa process, considering that there is no domestic data protection framework in place.