The visa waiver program is intended to allow visitors from 38 countries to enter the United States with no fuss and no hassle. As the Trump Administration’s anti-terror crackdowns increasingly impact travelers trying to visit the US, however, even those from waiver countries may face “extreme vetting.”
The latest proposal, according to officials familiar with the situation, is to single out all travelers that the Department of Homeland Security has “any doubt about” and require them to hand over a myriad of information, including all contacts on their cellphones, and all their social media accounts and passwords.
Officials say all of this is necessary “to figure out who you’re communicating with,” and the password requirement intends to give them access to private communication as well as the public communication taking place on social media.
This obviously is provoking a backlash from civil liberties groups, noting what an enormous violation of privacy this all would be. On top of that, this risks being a major impediment to people being willing to travel to the US at all, a potential blow for international business and tourism.