The US Customs and Border Protection agency has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget, asking for permission to collect travellers’ social notworking account names as they enter the country.
The CBP has asked that the request “Please enter information associated with your online presence — Provider/Platform — Social media identifier” be added to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and to the CBP Form I-94W (Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure).
Apparently the detail request will be optional but if you fail to fill it in the customs people will look at you oddly and insist on a full body cavity search.
“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyse and investigate the case.”
Of course it is utterly pointless. Border staff are hardly going to check that you have written down any reliable data, let alone volunteer your Facebook account to be rigorously probed by an official.
Are they going to be concerned if someone is running an account under a fake name? Will they send you home for calling yourself Mitzi Galore when your real name is Simon? Will they test to see if the kitten crawling out of a bog roll is your own?
All this is remarkably like Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the country by asking them “are you a Muslim?” Or the government’s previous goodie “have you ever been involved in the administration of a Nazi concentration camp?” What did Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun used to write on the form when he went through?