The Strategist

Foreigners entering the US are now asked about their social media activities

12/27/2016 - 14:08

US Customs Service is now requesting from foreigners arriving in the country information on their activities in social networks. In particular, the authorities are interested in their accounts in social networks and their usernames. So far, consent to answer these questions is voluntary, and refusal isn’t supposed to affect decision on admission.

Josh Denmark, CBP Photography
Josh Denmark, CBP Photography
US authorities began testing a new way to detect terrorists. Last week, the United States Customs Service started to collect information about social networks activity of foreign nationals coming into the country. Foreigners are asked what social networks they use and under what names. Among others, the list of the social networks includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram.

The new control measure is only applied to those who enter the country on a visa-free regime. Even for them it is not mandatory to answer the questions, and refusal does not entail any additional difficulties with admission in the country. The US government voiced an idea of such additional control this summer and has already faced a barrage of criticism from human rights activists and American lobby group "Internet Association", who claim that introduction of such rules is threatening freedom of expression on the Internet.

They also warned that the program will mostly hit "members of Arab and Muslim communities, whose nicknames, posts, contacts and social connections will be revealed for careful study". The American Civil Liberties Union said that these measures will give the government access "to huge volume of statements of Internet users, information about their links, which may reflect extremely scrupulous information about their opinions, beliefs, identities and communities to which they belong."

Earlier Barack Obama called on Donald Trump not to act like there is a "war between the United States and Islam". Such an attitude would be fraught with not only increased number of terrorist attacks and consequent death of Americans, but also with loss of "the very principles that we claim we protect," stressed Head of the current US administration.

"We must consider the terroristic threat of terrorism in the long run, and we have to use a smart strategy that can be maintained," - Obama said. In this regard, he stated that terrorism is not a threat to the very existence of the United States, and warned the future state administration against plunging in foreign operations to neutralize this threat. "We need a wisdom that allows to see that adherence to our values and the rule of law is not a weakness, but the most significant force", - Obama convinced. Last week, Trump promised that the US would be willing to establish partnerships with all countries seeking help to defeat "radical Islamic terrorism."

Obama said the United States, "whenever necessary", should be ready to act "unilaterally to neutralize any imminent threats" against its citizens. "However, I also insisted that it is unwise and impractical to ask our armed forces to engage in nation-building on the other side of the world, or settle internal conflicts, especially in places where our forces are transformed into a magnet for terrorists and insurgents" - said Head of the White house.