Donald Trump has only been a president for a short amount of time, but his administration has already started making waves. Hot on the heels of the controversial Muslim ban, which prevents people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia from entering the USA, comes an offer from the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, which is very simple in its nature, but also destroys any notion of privacy – visitors from the aforementioned countries that’re going to apply for an American visa should be ready to provide passwords for their social network accounts.
On one hand, it’s understandable – terrorists often use social networks to plan their operations, and Barack Obama was criticized for not enforcing more means to monitor the activities of its users. On the other hand though, it seems a bit excessive. Sure, the situation in the world right now is such that it requires certain measures, as it’s just not possible to delay them anymore, but asking everyone for their passwords can sufficiently damage the tourist industry, and also goes against the right to privacy. It doesn’t end there – it shows that John Kelly thinks that potential immigrants don’t even deserve digital rights. This is his direct quote – “If they don’t want to give us that information, then they don’t come.”
But Trump’s administration needs to keep in mind that people can always create more social network profiles that won’t have any compromising information. Deleting a browsing history is very easy, and tracking someone on the Internet is still not as simple as it may seem at first. FBI, for example, is still learning the intricacies of battling against hackers – it’s known for a fact that this organization can be flummoxed by such simple measures as using proxies.
Still, there’re reports of smartphones being confiscated from Muslim people that were affected by Trump’s ban, so it probably means that this is just the beginning. Of course, there’s now an ongoing battle between the administration and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals because of the ban being frozen, but it’s highly unlikely that it will lead to it being scrapped. And even though it’s temporary, its mere presence is highly alarming and offers a glimpse into a dark new direction that the USA might be heading in. And John Kelly seems so casual while speaking about his initiative that it’s very easy to imagine scenes from “1984” coming to life.
There’s one other problem with this – who’s to say that all people who want to visit or move to America won’t be required to provide their social media passwords in the future? The officials will have a perfect excuse – anyone can be a member of a terrorist organization, and the USA need protection, so hand over your personal information, or, again quoting John Kelly, give your place to a person “next in line”. Only time will tell whether those measures will be implemented, but one thing is certain for now – it’s in your best interest to remove as much as you can from your social media profile. You never know who might be combing through it at this very moment, and there’s also no guarantee that someone won’t just demand the password for it. Again, the threat of terrorism is very real and requires action, but, following Kelly’s logic, all people should just be exterminated, as everyone can potentially be a threat to society. And if America really does go through with this initiative, it will only be logical for other countries to follow suit. And American tourists will be forced to provide their passwords before going to any other country.