Border Patrol may ask for social media info

Department of Homeland Security agents might start asking travelers for more than their passports, National Public Radio reported Wednesday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection submitted a proposal that would allow the agency to request travelers' social media account information. The proposal would ask for "social media identifiers" from travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

“It will be an optional data field to request social media identifiers to be used for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information,” the CPB said in the proposal.

The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens from 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism for up to 90 days without a visa. In order to be eligible, travelers must submit forms through the Electronic System for Travel.

The proposal is intended as an expansion of the already existing electronic system, which DHS said helps screen visitors “for potential risks to national security.”

Additional questions were added to the ESTA in December 2015 after the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act was signed into law. Those questions ask travelers where they have traveled, where they are citizens and where they hold passports, according to CPB.

The proposed one-question addition to the paperwork would be the only one that asks a traveler about their presence online.

“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections,” CPB said. The social media information connected will provide officials with “an additional tool set” to help them better analyze and investigate cases, CPB said.