VISA APPLICANTS hoping to travel to the United States of America (aka a Trip to Trumpton) can now be asked for their social media history going back up to five years.
Consular officials can request email addresses, phone numbers and up to 15 years of 'biographical' information.
The State Department has issued a statement estimating that it will be giving the questionnaire to around 0.5 percent of applicants and that filling it out was 'voluntary', though warned that failure to comply could impede their passage to the US, which is kind of not all that voluntary at all.
Critics have expressed concern that it will infringe private data unnecessarily, whilst using resources to investigate ultimately fruitless lines of enquiry.
The questionnaire applies to selected applicants not using the visa waiver program. Visa waiver applications are subject to their own rules that came in at the end of 2016.
The "Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants" form asks for non-techie stuff too, but the key question is "Please provide your unique username for any websites of applications you have used to create and share content (photos, videos, status updates, etc) as part of a public profile in the last five years."
So if you've done a little FourSquare, still have a MySpace or remember when Habbo Hotel was a friendly nurturing environment, then you might need to get your thinking cap on and remember your usernames.
The use of so-called 'social media identifiers' is becoming increasingly common, not just for security but for screening job applicants, which it is recommended not to post anything to incriminating from your office party on your public feeds.
Or swear on LinkedIn.
In most states, the practice is allowed, but both Maryland (where the cookies come from) and Illinois have their own state-level legislation banning employers from judging applicants based on their drunken Facebook posts.
The dangers of online disclosure were demonstrated back in 2013 when a transexual was "outed" on Hangouts after she accidentally sent information from her Google+ account, which she hadn't updated since transitioning. Because it's Google+. Who does? µ
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