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Homeland Security chief says US might ask visa applicants for social media passwords

New York, Feb 9 (IANS) If you are planning a visit to the US, you could be asked to hand over Facebook and other social media passwords as part of an enhanced security process, media reports said.

According to a report in NBC News on Wednesday that quoted Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, this step was one of several being considered to vet refugees and visa applicants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say? If they don’t want to cooperate then don’t come in,” Kelly was quoted as saying.

Kelly reportedly made these remarks on the same day when judges in US heard arguments over President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning the entry of refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Kelly believes that under the existing vetting process, “officials don’t have a lot to work with, except relying on the applicant’s documentation and asking them questions about their background”.

“When someone says, ‘I’m from this town and this was my occupation’, (officials) essentially have to take the word of the individual. I frankly don’t think that’s enough, certainly President Trump doesn’t think that’s enough. So we’ve got to maybe add some additional layers,” Kelly added.

Apart from social media passwords, Kelly said he was mulling obtaining people’s financial records.

“We can follow the money, so to speak. How are you living, who’s sending you money? It applies under certain circumstances, to individuals who may be involved in or on the payroll of terrorist organisations,” he said.

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