DHS Seeking to Vet Foreign Travelers’ Social Media Info with ‘Optional’ Question


The list of information foreign travelers to the United States are asked to provide may soon get a little longer.

A new rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security and entered into Federal Register would allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to request that foreign travelers provide their social media information.

“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 analyze and investigate the case,” the proposed rule reads.

While DHS says the plan will help to help suss out potentially bad actors, foreign visitors would not be required to submit their social media information — instead providing their online handles would be optional.

“It will be an optional data field to request social media identifiers to be used for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information,” the proposal says.

The proposed optional data prompt would be added to CBP’s standard entry and exit forms. Foreign visitors entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program would also be asked for their social media handles. On those forms, the optional prompt would read, “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”

DHS has come under fire in recent months after reports indicated it failed to adequately vet San Bernadino terrorist Tashfeen Malik. Malik, who was admitted to the U.S. on a fianceée visa, had reportedly been expressing her support for violent jihad online before applying to come to the U.S.

The proposed rule has a 60 day comment period, which began on Thursday and is slated to end on August 22.

“The comments that are submitted will be summarized and included in the CBP request for OMB approval,” the proposal added. “All comments will become a matter of public record.”