US Customs wants foreign nationals to reveal their social media handles

Travellers looking to enter the United States will be asked by US Customs for their social media IDs under a new proposal.

US Customs and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) want to ask foreign nationals entering the United States to hand over their social media handles at a cost of almost $300 million a year.

According to a notice posted on the US federal register, travellers would be asked to "Please enter information associated with your online presence -- Provider/Platform -- Social media identifier".

Responding to the question would be optional.

"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 analyze and investigate the case," the proposal states.

The proposal said the field would be added to Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) forms and Form I-94 that is used as a record for arrival and departure.

US Customs is seeking comment on the proposal until August 22, with comments needing to be mailed to Washington, DC.

The technology systems and processes used by the Department of Homeland Security have been repeatedly called out as ill-equipped in recent years.

The proposal said US Customs spends nearly $300 million a year on its ESTA and I-94 systems to handle over 32 million travellers to the United States.