10:52 GMT +314 October 2019
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    US Now Asking for Social Media Accounts of Foreign Travelers

    CC BY 2.0 / Jason Howie / Instagram and other Social Media Apps
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    The US government has begun offering foreign travelers who enter the country the option of providing data “associated with your online presence” from social media accounts including Facebook, Google+, Instagram and YouTube, drawing the ire of tech companies and privacy advocates alike.

    According to a government official who cited the move as part of an effort to nix potential terror threats, Politico reported on Thursday that Washington is stepping up security efforts to prevent individuals with close ties to Daesh from crossing its borders.

    While the policy outlines a surface view, deeper questions linger, including how the information is aggregated, stored, and shared with other federal agencies. "There are no guidelines about limiting the government’s use of that information," stated Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff at the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.

    A chair is pictured on stage as former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is awarded the Bjornson prize Molde, Norway, in this September 5, 2015 file photo
    © REUTERS / Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/NTB Scanpix/Files

    The government "certainly has a right" and obligation to guarantee the safety of its citizens, which may include gathering information, but "it would be nice if they would focus on the privacy concerns some advocacy groups have long expressed," he said.

    The "optional" question will be posed to individuals entering the US on the visa-waiver program, which allows travelers to explore the US for three months, without acquiring a visa.


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