US immigration may demand social media passwords

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said visa applicants could be asked to give up their passwords as part of "enhanced" screening

Visa applicants could soon be asked for passwords to their social media accounts by US embassies.

During his first congressional hearing since his Senate confirmation, the newly-appointed US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the move was being considered as part of an effort to screen out people who may pose a security threat.

He said it was one of the steps being considered especially for visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The seven countries were targeted in President Donald Trump's controversial immigrant and refugee ban order which has since been suspended.

Kelly told a hearing of the Homeland Security Committee: "We're looking at some enhanced or some additional screening.

"We may want to get on their social media, with passwords.

"It's very hard to truly vet these people in these countries, the seven countries.

“But if they come in, we want to say, what websites do they visit, and give us your passwords. So we can see what they do on the internet."

He said anyone who refused to cooperate would not be allowed into the United States.

He stressed that no decision had been made, but tighter screening would be implemented, even if it means longer delays for awarding US visas to visitors.

"These are the things we are thinking about. But over there we can ask them for this kind of information and if they truly want to come to America, then they will cooperate. If not, next in line."