Like the United Kingdom, the U.S. government is going through a re-branding right now, in case you haven’t heard. Apparently, that includes Donald Trump extending his rhetoric of “extreme vetting” to ally nations in the European Union and even requiring Europeans to give customs agents their social media usernames and passwords for U.S. entry. The countries mentioned as possibly being subject to this additional “vetting” includes Scotland, Great Britain, Germany and France, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to the New York Times, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly informed a U.S. Senate committee that “We will do [extreme vetting] when we think there’s a reason to do it,“ he said. “The vast majority of people will not be questioned in that way.” This announcement follows an alleged terrorist attack at Westminster that injured 50 people and killed four.
After promising tighter borders, the current administration appears to be putting an emphasis on extreme in extreme vetting, perhaps as a way to further normalize domestic surveillance. In a blanket statement likely to soon be parroted by Kellyanne Conway, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol claimed to The Guardian that such provisions are business as usual.
"All international travelers arriving to the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection. This inspection may include electronic devices such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital devices,” the agency said.
Many see requiring foreigners to hand over their social media information as Trump emboldening support for American to become a surveillance state in the name of domestic safety. To consider the implications of increased vetting of tourists from ally nations, Edward Snowden recently spoke on how closely privacy is tied to free speech at the University of Arizona.
“Without privacy, you can’t have anything for yourself. Saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” And yes, when Snowden says “anything for yourself,” he means “any chance of rebellion against systems of oppression.”