- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 2nd March 2017
- social media, USA, visa
Social Media checks look set to be applied to cover Chinese citizens travelling to the U.S. as part of new security measures outlined by the Trump Administration. Currently undergoing a 60 day notice period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are proposing to ask incoming Chinese to disclose their social media ‘’handles’’ or other identifiers on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. As Chinese citizens are far more likely to use Chinese specific social media platforms, it is unclear as to what U.S. CBP aims to gain from such a request. Supposedly, given the question will be ‘’optional’’, those who do not wish to disclose their social media information will be processed as they enter the country without ‘‘negative interpretation or inference.’’
The move is not unprecedented when considering that the Obama administration carried out a similar screening effort for those entering the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program late last year from a variety of European and other highly-developed countries. Thus, the move should not necessarily be interpreted as a tightening on Chinese immigration and tourism to the U.S. However, many organisations, such as Access Now, the Internet Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have criticised the move for being invasive and posing privacy risks to those entering the country, and have raised concerns that the measure could be extended into more invasive policy in the future. It has been noted that U.S. customs has become aggressive at asking for social media account information in person, and that the Trump administration has discussed the possibility of making the disclosure of such information mandatory. Mandatory or not, Nathan White, senior legislative manager of Access Now, has stated that ‘the process to enter the US is confusing, and it’s likely that most visitors will fill out the card completely rather than risk additional questions from intimidating, uniformed officers – the same officers who will decide which of your jokes are funny and which ones make you a security risk.’ The proposal, since Tuesday February 21st, has entered a 60 day comment period, during which the public may comment on the proposal before it will be formally considered.
In the past, Chinese citizens have faced difficulties entering the U.S. and other nations. However, since 2014, Chinese citizens have been able to obtain multiple entry 10 year visas in order to visit the U.S. for travel and business. In 2015, more than 2 million Chinese citizens were issued with B-1,2 visas – the largest group entering the U.S. Chinese citizens for the foreseeable future will continue to be able to obtain 10 year multiple entry visas, and the potential social media measures do not set incoming Chinese apart from their Japanese, Australian and European counterparts, who already face questions regarding their social media involvement upon entry to the U.S.
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