Homeland Security Might Ask Some US Visitors to Give Up Social Media Passwords

February 9, 2017 11:42 am Last Updated: February 9, 2017 11:52 am

The Department of Homeland Security has indicated that visitors to the United States might have to hand over passwords to their social media accounts.

In an address to Congress on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the measure is being considered and it may be one of several new initiatives to vet refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations included in President Donald Trump’s immigration order.

“We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” he told the House Homeland Security Committee, NBC News reported. “If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”

Trump’s order bars citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. A federal judge in Washington has blocked Trump’s order.

Kelly said that obtaining passwords are “the things that we’re thinking about” implementing. Officials under the current vetting process “don’t have a lot to work with” and rely on documentation and asking them background questions, he added.

Citizens from “failed states” like Yemen, Syria, and Somalia—where government infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged by war and conflict—are even harder to vet, he stressed.

“When someone says, ‘I’m from this town and this was my occupation,’ [officials] essentially have to take the word of the individual,” he added. “I frankly don’t think that’s enough, certainly President Trump doesn’t think that’s enough. So we’ve got to maybe add some additional layers.”

He said that other options include obtaining visa-holders’ financial records to see if they’re on the payroll of terrorist organizations.

“We can follow the money, so to speak. How are you living, who’s sending you money?” he added. “It applies under certain circumstances, to individuals who may be involved in on the payroll of terrorist organizations.”