World News

Social media history will now be needed for visa applications; many countries like Australia, UK and USA already do so

Several countries’ immigration authorities would now scan the social media history of the applicants lest it doesn’t contravene the laws of the country

The Hush Post: Now, the visa applicants to various countries would have to share their history of social media accounts with the officials of immigration and border security across many countries.

Several countries now would want to check applicants’ profile information, posts etc and match it with the information you have submitted to get the travel document, a report in The Times of India said.

The move is aimed at helping the authorities to check whether you have links to terrorist organisations and hate groups, which may contravene the laws of the country you intend to visit, the report said.

Countries like US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa are tracking social media accounts of people applying for visas, residency or work permits. Canadian consular officials processing permanent residency applications have issued rejection letters when the information provided did not match the same on the applicants’ social media accounts, the report said.

Last year, in September 2017, immigration officials in New Zealand used pseudonyms to open social media accounts to verify information relating to visa applicants.

Membership of banned organisations and hate speech on social media has seen several visa denials by UK and South Africa. An American pastor was denied a South African visa because of his anti-gay rhetoric on social media, it was rerported.

And the scrutiny is getting tighter. In March this year, US State Department had proposed that all visa applicants need to list all Facebook and Twitter accounts they own over the last five years though this plan doesn’t include asking to list passwords.

In addition to this, in some countries, including the US, immigration officials have the authority to search your devices like mobile phones and laptops.

US border officials conducted 30,200 searches of devices in 2017, an increase of 58 per cent compared to 2016. The first six months of this year saw, 15,000 such searches conducted.

Even in absence of suspicion of criminal conduct, a basic search of an electronic device can be carried out while an advanced search can see the device confiscated and sent to a forensic lab when there is a suspicion that the person is a threat to national security, it was reported.

Under the present US law, officials can only search the data stored on the device and they are not authorized to search for information stored on the cloud via the device. So, travellers are advised to remove sensitive data from their devices and store them on the cloud before travelling, the report said.

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