Speed Reads

extreme vetting

Want to visit America? You might have to turn over your phone and social media passwords.

The Trump administration is considering requiring even short-term visitors to the U.S. to "disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social media passwords, and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology," The Wall Street Journal reports. While the policy would be part of President Trump's ongoing promise of "extreme vetting," the changes could apply to visitors from around the world, including France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, and Australia.

"We want to say for instance, 'What [websites] do you visit? And give us your passwords,' so that we can see what they do on the internet," explained Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in February. "If they don't want to give us that information then they don't come."

Trump's travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries has sparked outcry for potentially being unconstitutional, and civil liberties groups slammed Kelly's statement for being a "direct assault on fundamental rights," such as the freedom of expression. The Wall Street Journal notes that the groups additionally warned that the U.S.'s strict vetting could eventually spark foreign governments to treat American travelers in the same manner.

Many experts are unconvinced by the proposed approach. "The real bad guys will get rid of their phones. They'll show up with a clean phone," said Leon Rodriguez, the former head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Others say that by running phone contacts against databases, for instance, officials could potentially find ties to terrorist organizations.

President Trump has vowed that "those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country."