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Saturday, March 31, 2018

USA should check online activity of visitors

President Trump's government wants to check the social media contacts of nearly 15 million visitors to the United States each year as part of the visa process.

My only question is why didn't we do this before?

Oh, yes, Barack Obama was president.

The State Department began the process to set up the new regulation.

"The proposal covers 20 social media platforms. Most of them are based in the United States: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. But several are based overseas: the Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku; the Russian social network VK; Twoo, which was created in Belgium; and, a question-and-answer platform based in Latvia," the New York Times reported.

Terrorists (and most criminals) are not very bright. They leave a trail. If a guy is posting at, there is a good chance he wants to make that happen.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, is all upset.

"This attempt to collect a massive amount of information on the social media activity of millions of visa applicants is yet another ineffective and deeply problematic Trump administration plan," Shamsi told the Times.

"It will infringe on the rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens by chilling freedom of speech and association, particularly because people will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official."

Funny, I cannot seem to find the ACLU complaint about Obama using the national security apparatus to spy on Trump and other political opponents. I tried. The ACLU fights for the rights of non-citizens while lobbying to trip way the rights of actual citizens.

From the article: "Facebook said its position had not changed since last year, when it said: 'We oppose any efforts to force travelers at the border to turn over their private account information, including passwords.'"

Give Facebook a few bucks, however, and it will spill the beans on everyone.

You want in, you have to give the password.


I am all for that.


  1. As we all know, terrorists use their real names when using social media so asking them to disclose their on-line accounts will be an effective tool for weeding out the foreigners who want to do great harm to America. /sarc

  2. Common sense to me. But common sense has not been common in DC. until now.

    1. I disagree. On its face, this is such a stupid, grossly ineffective proposal I can only imagine there is some ulterior motive behind it that is not immediately obvious. Perhaps it is designed to drive potential terrorists off-line so they cannot use social media to organize, but whatever the true objective it cannot be what it is presented to be...or else our national security experts are exceedingly dumb (which is a distinct possibility if you give it a moment's thought). And that is especially true if the information is not provided well ahead of time so it can be vetted. I can only surmise that after having collected many, many petabytes of data they will be unable to "analyze" properly any of the information they gather even with advanced AI methods. This will become just another huge NSA-like database, perhaps to be interrogated only after another 9/11 type attack. But I seriously doubt it is of any real value in screening people who are applying for a visa.

  3. I am only on FB, to see what my kids are up to, but even with that, I probably have quite a few pages per annum. If they went back 5 years, again quite a lot of postings plus all the "likes" and "shares" of political stuff, and I am a light user. How on earth is the govt to collect and analyse 5 years of data on 15 million new people a year, across 10 platforms minimum, plus don't forget all the comments I make on a variety of sites.
    I just can't see this as a practical solution. Furthermore, as far as terrorism is concerned, there is only one group worldwide which is doing it, so why not extremely vet those and leave the rest of us alone? I am referring to muslims. cm

  4. If I had to provide all the e-mail addresses I've used during the past five years I'd be in trouble.

    I create new, unique e-mail addresses to log on to some sites that I never go back to again. I also used to show folks at work how easy it was to create throwaway e-mail addresses. Boy, I'd be in troublllle.

  5. 'Terrorists (and most criminals) are not very bright. They leave a trail.'
    Some of them are happy to brag in advance about their activities, that's true.

  6. The way I look at this is that the govt is already doing this to us, so it may as well be using it for outsiders, and if anything detrimental is found, keep them out.

    In a sense I agree with iapetus about this, but on the other hand it reflects a world we already live in. If government agencies are to take blame for ignoring potentially dangerous persons who post their intentions on social media, then those agencies need a mandate to look at those things. They are bureaucracies, after all. Sad to say, our safety and security are on the clock.