Two organizations representing documentary filmmakers are challenging new State Department “extreme vetting” rules that require visa applicants to disclose all social media handles they have used in the past five years.
“We feel these new policies infringe upon foreign filmmakers’ freedom of expression, and they also interfere with Americans’ ability to engage with a diverse set of thinkers and creators from around the world,” the International Documentary Association said in a statement.
The IDA and the Doc Society filed the lawsuit this week, with support from the Knight First Amendment Institute and the Brennan Center for Justice. They name as defendants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.
The lawsuit (read it here) claims that the registration requirement is “the cornerstone of a far-reaching digital surveillance regime that enables the U.S. government to monitor visa applicants’ constitutionally protected speech and associations, not just at the time they apply for visas, but even after they enter the United States.”
Their lawsuit argues that because of the requirement, applicants “who would otherwise use social media to speak to others, and to share their views about personal or political topics, refrain from doing so or publicly share less than they otherwise would.” They also argue that the requirements forces users to give up anonymous social media handles, as is “effectively conditions their eligibility for U.S. visas on their readiness to surrender their online anonymity.”
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