Gen. John Kelly, the newly minted Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told Congress Tuesday his department was considering requesting social media passwords from people looking to enter the U.S. from the seven countries named in President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban.
“It’s very hard to truly vet these people in these countries, the seven countries, Gen. Kelly said. “But if they come in, we want to say, what websites do they visit, and give us your passwords. So we can see what they do on the internet.”
He added that if visitors don’t want to hand over the information they won’t be let into the country. Gen. Kelly emphasized that these measures haven’t yet been taken, but that they are being considered among many vetting processes.
He said that over there, U.S. officials can ask about that kind of information and that if people truly want to come to the U.S. then they will cooperate.
Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff of the First Amendment Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told SC Media that the statement does concern the organization, which will be monitoring it closely for more clarity on exactly what measures will be implemented and how.
Macleod-Ball said since the policies are still unclear, there are several questions that need to be answered, such as, how it will apply to American citizens and what will be done with the information once collected.
“I think there is a broad argument that this kind of policy carried out in the worst way is not American,” he said, adding that there are ways that this kind of vetting can be narrowed enough to be secure yet not overarching.