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Applicants to provide social media account when applying to the US Visa

Names of account on these platform for the last five year will be required.

Facebook Messenger isn't end-to-end encrypted by default. Messenger's regular conversations are not end-to-end encrypted. But the app has a Secret Conversations feature that, when enabled, can secure chats under strong encryption. 

WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted by default. Mark Zuckerberg said the messaging services under the big blue Facebook umbrella — WhatsApp, Messenger, and direct messages on Instagram—will all have end-to-end encryption. 

Snapchat has end-to-end encryption to its services in a bid to prevent videos and photos shared between its users from being intercepted by others.

Buried inside Twitter’s Android app is a 'Secret conversation' option that if launched would allow users to send encrypted direct messages. The feature could make Twitter a better home for sensitive communications that often end up on encrypted messaging apps like Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp. 

Encryption is essential. The feature means that if someone—a government, a bad actor, even the company itself delivering the message—were to intercept the note along the way, the contents would be unreadable.

In early June 2019, the U.S. State Department announced that all U.S. visa applicants submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers as part of the application process. National security was cited as the reason with the additional measures implemented to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.

Questions now arose as to what the US government will do with the social media details that the applicants are submitting? Does the applicant required to 'invite' the US government to be their 'friend'? If not, how does the US government investigate and check the background of the applicant and their activities on the social media platform? As stated above, all these social media platforms has assured the users of their platform that the users messages and details are confidential and are set in accordance to a private setting. Hmmm...

The introduction of this requirement is akin to the guideline issued years ago by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) where all inbound and outbound air travellers in the United States are advised to lock their luggage using TSA recognised locks.

Under the policy, TSA screens all checked and carry-on baggage before it is permitted to be brought onboard commercial aircraft. TSA officers are authorised to open your baggage as part of the screening process. If your bag is unlocked, then the TSA officer will simply open and screen the baggage. However, if the air traveller decides to lock their checked baggage - the policy is not mandatory - and TSA cannot open it through other means, then the locks may have to be cut and TSA are not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes. 

Even though other countries has started following this guideline for travellers arriving and leaving their countries, but using this analogy, does it mean that if the authority in the US does not have the password or access to the social media accounts provided by the applicant, they can 'force' their way into these accounts to check on the activities of the account holders? 

It looks like we are living in a paranoia world.


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