Week in Review: March 30, 2018

by Dan Bateyko

State Department proposes visa applicants submit social media usernames

In filings published today, the State Department announced plans to require nearly all visa applicants to submit their social media account handles, according to the Associated Press. The proposal, currently up for public comment, would affect nearly 15 million foreign visitors to the U.S.

The proposal would also require applicants to submit five years of telephone numbers, email addresses, and travel history, reports Reuters. Applicants can also choose to list usernames of social media platforms besides those to be identified by the government. In a CNN article, officials indicated that these changes would not affect diplomatic and official visa applicants.

The Trump administration has issued similar social media proposals as part of its “extreme vetting” initiatives. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute, provides a timeline of social media vetting proposals and actions by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. Last year, when the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed that non-citizens share their social media passwords at the border before entering the U.S., a coalition of civil liberties organization wrote that "we recognize the important role that DHS plays in protecting the United States' borders and the challenges it faces in keeping the U.S. safe, but demanding passwords or other account credentials without cause will fail to increase the security of U.S. citizens and is a direct assault on fundamental rights."

MyFitnessPal app data breach affects 150 million users

The nutrition-tracking app MyFitnessPal announced that 150 million users’ usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords were breached by an unknown party, reports Reuters. While the breach occurred in late February, the company learned of the breach on Sunday and issued a statement four days later. Users are encouraged to change their password by visiting the MyFitnessPal website.

Microsoft tackles offensive language in new Terms of Service

As part of Microsoft’s new Terms of Service, offensive language may result in suspensions or bans on their services, reports Fortune Magazine. While Popular Mechanics writes that the update will affect services like Skype and OneDrive, Gizmodo quells privacy concerns, arguing that the update is limited to Xbox’s code of conduct, which previously prohibited profane words. As of writing, Microsoft has not publicly addressed how the updated rules will be enforced.