Tuesday 3rd April, 2018 – The United States Government is mulling a controversial move that can affect citizens and residents in Antigua and Barbuda and throughout the world with social media accounts who are seeking immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
The Trump administration has said it wants to start collecting the social media history of nearly everyone seeking a visa to enter the US.
The proposal, which comes from the state department, would require most visa applicants to give details of their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
They would have to disclose all social media identities used in the past five years.
About 14.7 million people a year would be affected by the proposals.
The information would be used to identify and vet those seeking both immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Applicants would also be asked for five years of their telephone numbers, email addresses and travel history. They would be required to say if they had ever been deported from a country, or if any relatives had been involved in terrorist activity.
The proposal would not affect citizens from countries to which the US grants visa-free travel status – among them the UK, Canada, France and Germany. However, citizens from non-exempt countries like India, China and Mexico could be embroiled if they visit the US for work or a holiday.
Officials defended the proposal by saying it would help to identify potential extremists.
The idea is subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget.
The public will have two months to comment on the proposal before it makes a decision.
Civil liberties groups have condemned the policy as an invasion of privacy that could damage free speech.