US begins asking foreign travelers for social media accounts upon entry

US begins asking foreign travelers for social media accounts upon entry
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection has finalized a measure to have foreign travelers provide social media accounts when they enter the country. 

Border Security started asking travelers coming into the country on Tuesday to voluntarily provide their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, Politico first reported. When individuals apply for visa waivers, they’re prompted with the option to include their accounts on the aforementioned platforms and Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection introduced the measure in June and took comment on it until Aug. 22. Since floating the idea, the government has received substantial criticism for it from groups like the Internet Association, which represents Google, Facebook and Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

“This program would invade individual privacy and imperil freedom of expression while being ineffective and prohibitively expensive to implement and maintain,” the EFF and ACLU wrote along with 26 other groups in August.

The groups noted that the impact would “fall hardest on Arab and Muslim communities, whose usernames, posts, contacts and social networks will be exposed to intense scrutiny.”

The agency has defended the measure, arguing that it will help spot potential threats to homeland security and have noted that it is only optional.