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US Department of State Publishes Proposed Rule on Access to Social Media

The US Department of State has published a proposed rule requiring those applying for visa stamps at a US embassy or consulate abroad to provide access to five years’ worth of social media history - or at least, all usernames utilized within the last five years as well as current and previous email addresses and phone numbers going back five years. The proposed rule doesn’t mention asking for passwords…at least for now.

While most of the attention has focused on the collection of social media usernames, the rule proposes collecting more information in other areas as well. The new rule proposed collecting information on international travel going back five years (some information on international travel is collected already); whether they have been deported, removed, or violated immigration laws in the past; and whether relatives have been involved in terrorist activities.

The information would be collected primarily on the DS-160 form applicants for nonimmigrant visas much complete.

As a proposed rule, the publication will be followed by a 60-day “comment period” before the rule may be published in its final form and become effective.