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Trump Administration Approves Tougher Visa Vetting, Including Social Media Checks (reuters.com) 270

The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years. From a report: The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period. Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States. Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.
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Trump Administration Approves Tougher Visa Vetting, Including Social Media Checks

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  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @10:40PM (#54531557)
    I worked for a company that had a few sub-divisions in Europe. Knowing the managers and Engineers there as I do, I'd suspect that they would not abide by such a request if they were to travel to HQ here in the US on a business trip.

    So now the proper functioning of my company is jeopardized?

    • No, you will need to go there.
      So instead of the US making money off tourists, the US will become the tourists and spend their money in other countries.

      And as for international tourism to the USA in general, watch the numbers fall. Our family won't be back, too much aggravation and risk
      Far easier to go to Europe and Asia.
      • so they'll come here because they have to to keep their jobs. And so the Global Race to the Bottom (tm) continues. Second Dark Ages here we come.
        • so they'll come here because they have to to keep their jobs

          No, they don't have to, really. They can work for anyone they want. It's the managers of the company who have to take care of its remote branch operating unless they want to shut it down and lose the market and the institutional knowledge and whatnot.

      • No, you will need to go there. So instead of the US making money off tourists, the US will become the tourists and spend their money in other countries. And as for international tourism to the USA in general, watch the numbers fall. Our family won't be back, too much aggravation and risk Far easier to go to Europe and Asia.

        Uh, 'tourism' is not the purpose of such visits. It's to have conferences that enable smoother functioning in any company.

        Tourism is a separate industry all its own, and there, people will decide whether to come or not based on a variety of factors. Of course, if they're Trump haters, they won't even bother, but if they're not, a whole slew of other factors will come into play.

    • Most EU nations are visa waiver with the US, meaning you don't need a visa to come over for tourism or business if you are a citizen in those countries (and vice versa for US citizens). Basically all of the EU has visa waiver status with the US, as well as a few other places (there are 38 countries total). So given that this is all about changes to the visa program, it doesn't affect you if you are from a VWP country (or Canada, which is completely visa exempt to the US, and Palu, Marshall Islands and Micro

      • They still ask you for your social media accounts with a visa waiver. It was still optional a couple of months ago when I last needs to apply for a visa wavier.

    • by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @01:18AM (#54532205) Homepage Journal

      Your post-9/11 bullshit is already keeping people out of the US. How about you do something about it? Land of the free, home of the brave my arse. Home of the scared shitless. Do you even remember the '80s? US used to carry on about how the USSR was oppressive because you needed papers to travel. Travelling in the US is worse than that now. You need to present papers, and take your shoes off, and not lock your bag, and not take any liquids with you, and so on. If your name is similar to a name on a secret list, you're denied the right to fly and there's jack shit you can do about it. US used to carry on about DDR's mass surveillance where they were paying everyone to spy on everyone else as though it was some great evil as well. Yet you now wiretap all domestic communications. You've got your secret prisons where you disappear people, you've got your leaked torture incidents (although you seem to be getting better at covering that up), you punish people for embarrassing the government rather than actually addressing the issues that make the leaks embarrassing. It's just not worth visiting the US. You get treated like a criminal at the border, and you know you're visiting the most hypocritical country on earth.

      • In the US, when I got married in 1998 I left my driver's license in my car for my honeymoon in New Orleans, having to fly there.

        They didn't even ask for ID at the time. They asked two questions regarding luggage and had an X-Ray machine. I was 25 at the time, but on honeymoon was only carded and denied entrance to a bar one time the entire trip. Returning home, no ID check.

        Back then you could give/sell your ticket to anyone else and no one cared.

        I could not repeat that trip today.

        That was freedom. Oh, e

      • Is this the same Theatre Security Airport [wikipedia.org] (TSA) that gave us this bullshit ?

        Airport Logic [memeblender.com]

        3 oz + 3 oz + 3 oz = Allowed
        9 oz = Not allowed

        --
        When did the USA turn into a land of wussies?

  • Yeah, right (Score:4, Funny)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday June 01, 2017 @10:52PM (#54531595)

    Thank god these nefarious terrorists have social media profiles under their real names, and have no clue about meta-data.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne7DnmdilEg

  • No longer care (Score:5, Informative)

    by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @10:57PM (#54531631)
    Having been to the US a number of times we as a family have made the choice not to go there again, its simply not worth the aggravation.

    We can fly to Europe via Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and other transit stops, there is no need to go via the US or even near the US. International flights may end up shifting to Canada/Mexico to attract customers.
    This of course also means flying on non-US airlines.
    It means we spend our money else where. We, outside the USA, get to vote with our wallets, and we are.

    Become isolationist, build your walls, hell even shoot yourself in the other foot, we are no longer worried, the real harm is to the US, not us.
    • by hughbar ( 579555 )
      Me too. Who needs the Disneyland Anal Probe Experience? I used to go there a lot, like the people for their generosity and optimism, but they've manage to elect a nutcase. Admittedly the choices were pretty bad, but Hilary the Hawk was slightly better and capable of taking advice from informed aides too.
  • Calexit (Score:4, Funny)

    by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:01PM (#54531641)

    this won't impact the new People's Democratic Republic of California, will it?

    • I'd say "Texit" since Texas is the only state that has the right to secede... but it's a red state and their leadership is every bit as out of touch with reality. I swear, Republicans and Reality aren't even kissing cousins anymore.

  • Down the list (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:25PM (#54531785) Journal
    "request all prior passport numbers"
    That is great for people who have laundered their past by getting some new state to become their only "travel" document after a few years of entry and telling a good story.
    A new passport granted by some easy third party nation will not be able to cover for past issues on another travel document.

    "five years' worth of social media handles"
    That will allow for a deeper understanding of a persons politics, who they fund, support, like and who their friends are.
    Lots of images in a nation few people can get into? Why is that person in that nation over the years?
    Posing under a banned groups banner, flag? A photo with a banned group?
    No bringing a banned groups supporters into the USA.
    "biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history"
    That shows a person has a job, can support themselves while they are in the USA, what study they did. What they present is a real not a fictional story to get travel paperwork from their own nation or created to be given new paperwork from a third nation.

    Lie to the USA and no visa application. Why should a person of interest be able to lie, omit, hide support for groups of interest or friends who support groups of interest to the USA?
    Real people with any education, a normal work history and a normal life should have no issues with any of the questions.
    • Re:Down the list (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DavidRawling ( 864446 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:45PM (#54531893)

      Really? Because in the last five years I must have created or posted content (as described) on, I would guess, more than three hundred websites. Of those I probably remember ... 10? 15? at most. I certainly don't remember all the "unique usernames" I've used. Do you know every place you've posted a Disqus comment? Where your facebook comments ended up? What if you don't have a facecrap account - but someone with your name does? You think they're going to be able to tell the difference? Or even care they're wrong?

      All prior passport numbers? I don't know. How do I find the number on a passport that expired 20 years ago and which was inadvertently destroyed ten years ago?

      I don't remember every single address I've lived at (sure, the ones I own, or I was on a lease, or lived at as a child - generally fine). Time periods? No chance. Nearest YEAR at best. If I were a frequent traveller, that info would be just as foggy. Did I travel to Bali in March or May? NFI. And the list goes on.

      Why should a person of interest be able to lie, omit, hide support for groups of interest or friends who support groups of interest to the USA?

      Why should the other 99.999% be effectively forced to lie (either directly or by omission) because some bureaucrat somewhere in the US has a hardon for trawling through personal data yet with arguably ZERO chance of unearthing anything useful. Do you really think that a terrywrist ISN'T GOING TO LIE?!

      • It's the person that can provide every detail without a problem that's your terrorist!

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      And yet, even with all of those questions, all a terrorist has to do to sneak in is to keep all their terrorist social media activity on a different account. Or delete everything that could be incriminating. Or just lie and say they don't have one.

      Meanwhile, of the legitimate travelers, not everyone has old passports, not everyone has social media accounts, not everyone has an address (yes, not all places people live have streets or street numbers), or one that you can cross reference (many governments d
      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re 'social media activity on a different account. Or delete everything that could be incriminating. Or just lie and say they don't have one. "
        The US has the ability to note any and all changes to social media over time. Upload an interesting image a few years ago, removing it in 2017 will just attract attention.
        To "delete" anything would just remove that image from the public in 2017 on the internet.
        If the image has been up for years, the US gov/mil has that funding event or supporting image and facial
        • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

          Re 'social media activity on a different account. Or delete everything that could be incriminating. Or just lie and say they don't have one. " The US has the ability to note any and all changes to social media over time. Upload an interesting image a few years ago, removing it in 2017 will just attract attention. To "delete" anything would just remove that image from the public in 2017 on the internet. If the image has been up for years, the US gov/mil has that funding event or supporting image and facial recognition of everyone at the event.

          What about keeping all their terrorist social media activity on a different account, one without their real name?

          The US has the ability to note any and all changes to social media over time.

          That's just not true. Facebook alone has way more data centers than the CIA, and they only keep the current data. If you add Google, Twitter and dozens of other social platforms, you're probably 100's of data centers away from being able to store all historical social media information.

          Re "wouldn't be able to validate 90% of what people are telling you anyways" One lie, one omission, some funding, some support for a banned group, one image, one account is all that is needed to show a person is trying to cover their past and present a totally fake story to sneak into the USA.

          How do you distinguish an innocent mistake from an intentional lie? Someone with 15 social media accounts can ea

    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      That shows a person has a job,

      An "employment history" is not required to show that a person currently has a job.

      can support themselves while they are in the USA,

      Usually, a statement from a bank is sufficient for that.

      what study they did.

      Oh, and how is that important? That's asking ... just out of curiosity. Lie to the USA and no visa application.

      The trouble starts when the (true) information given by the applicant does not match the (erroneous) alternative channel verification done by the

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Re "Also: How is this information verified? And if the USA has means for independent verification.."
        A person with a normal working life or educational history would have no issues.
        People with a more complex social media past can attempt:
        Lie and hope the US has no record of their past online support of banned groups.
        Submit a totally different clean past and hope the USA never finds their real past.
        Buy or use a totally clean set of papers and accounts. Too many images of people at protests, under flags,
    • 7 years of such information gets you security clearance at companies that have military equipment divisions.

      I went through that recently (there were also 20 or so forms, income proof for 7 years, etc.).

      So basically anyone who can enter the US under this regime will almost be able to get Federal security clearance...

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        That would really depend on the level of US security clearance.
        Are two people walking a life interviewing extended family, friends, employers and all teachers?
        The US gov used to go back generations and down to the city and town level in person. No teacher or city or state paper file escaped been found.

        The number of years would fit the average use of image uploads on social media. A person might have uploaded an interesting image at an event under a flag, or have been seen at an event and that image wa
  • by kiviQr ( 3443687 ) on Thursday June 01, 2017 @11:33PM (#54531823)
    simple question should be sufficient: are you a terrorist?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This plan is almost flawless, except on backwards day. On backwards day a normal citizen would answer "yes" to the question of are they a terrorist. A terrorist would also answer "yes" as we all know they do not observe backwards day. It would result in millions of terrorist flooding the country undetected one day of every year.

  • Tuck Frump (Score:2, Interesting)

    So when's the impeachment of the POTUS coming? I don't think anyone in their right mind in the US appreciates the fact that Trump has been actively sabotaging the US economy ever since his inauguration.
  • USSR (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rxke ( 644923 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @01:00AM (#54532161) Homepage

    In USSR privacy protects you?

  • Goodbuy ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday June 02, 2017 @01:54AM (#54532329)

    ...tourist industry. At least the hotel chains won't no longer have to worry about Booking.com and Tripadvisor.com.

  • by Bender Unit 22 ( 216955 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @02:54AM (#54532531) Journal

    As someone who have been traveling to the states 3 times a year on vacation, I think it is time to say goodbye for now.
    I was already somewhat reluctant about our upcoming trip this fall because of the laptop/electronics ban as carry-on, which got cancelled but now there's talks about it again. I am not putting expensive laptops and camera gear in checked.

    The house has already been rented, but it will be cancelled tonight.

    It's a shame, I liked to book the premium seats at Norwegian which enabled me to sleep or at least relax all the 10 hours on the flight, then one night after landing in Las Vegas and then driving to Arizona to go mountain biking, although the roads these days seems to have been deteriorating too much to be driving a Corvette, Mustang or Camaro. I liked renting american cars so that was a part of the "package".
    It was good fun, but I guess I will just spend my money within Europe.

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @03:01AM (#54532557) Homepage Journal

    When I visit other countries, including the US, I often buy a SIM card, get a temporary phone number, now some orange dingbat in the US tells me I was supposed to have remembered all those phone numbers I've had over the past 5 years.

    Oh, and I design VOIP hardware and software .... do you want ALL those numbers too? I can't remember them, is it a big form? lots of room

    Don't you guys have an NSA or something to keep track of all this stuff for us

  • No, I don't agree with the concept of asking for this information when crossing borders (mainly because I don't see it as an effective deterrent), but it appears that everyone is really pissed off and offended about people asking for their social media associations, as if you're really making an effort to hide yourself online.

    Pro tip; It's not really difficult to figure out it's you based on the 927 selfies you posted last month as "InstaWhore69".

    The irony of a generation of social media narcissists wantin

  • by nicolaiplum ( 169077 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @05:08AM (#54532941)

    The form estimates it will take 60 minutes to fill in. Only a very parochial American, like Trump, could find out all their travel, passport, and social media details within 60 minutes.

    Anyone who travels for work, or lives in a smaller country near other countries, or likes personal travel, will take 60 minutes to find their travel history for the past year, or less. It would take days of work to collect 15 years of details.

    I estimate that most of my work colleagues would find it impossible to collect travel details for 15 years, or social media handles for 15 years. They might not even remember where they lived 15 years ago.

    This is an impossible task to complete precisely for most people. It is also impossible for the US government to verify that the person has submitted all the information asked for. Therefore it is both unreasonable for the applicant and wasteful for the US government.

  • holy crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Friday June 02, 2017 @06:08AM (#54533111)
    "Have you travelled to any country (otherthan your country of residence) in the last 15 years? Ifyes, provide details for each trip, including locations visited, date visited, source of funds, and length of stay."

    Now, I do realize there are lots of people on this planet that do not travel much, some never even leave their country. My question is, realistically speaking, who in the US govt. thinks many of such people will apply for a US visa? Since even when talking about regular people, 15 years is a long time during which very very many travels can be done. And then there are some people, who the US probably wants - or should want - like scientists, researchers, engineers, etc. some or most of which might travel dozens (or even more) times PER YEAR. Now, just for a moment think about gathering information for 100+ travels for a visa application... Geez, I mean: GEEZ! :)

    "Have you ever held a passport other than the passport listed in your visa application? If yes, provide the following information"

    Well, I don't know how many passports people usually have during their life. Up to now, I have had a total of 3, from 2 separate countries (they do expire you know). Personally, I don't know the details of one from those three (I don't have it anymore, not even a copy) and it would be practically impossible to find out that data. Thankfully I don't need a US visa - well, not yet... this administration can seemingly have some fun with regulations :)

    Another favorite :) 15 years worth of employment history? :) Really :) Nice. I'd like to see a 30-40 years old senior tech worker fill out such an application :)
    • by Kvan ( 30429 )
      There's no way I could accurately gather 15 years of travel data. I don't have access to calendars or emails from past jobs, so all work related travel will be guesswork. At the absolute best I could probably get 80% of my travel right, and anything older than six years or so would probably only be accurate to within +/- a year.

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