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According to a release by Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL), governments around the world are screening travelers’ social media sites to vet their backgrounds and personal information. It said: “Global mobility leaders need to prepare employees for different types of border questioning and stops and searches, especially searches involving company computers and phones.”

“Employees traveling internationally should be informed about these risks and the exposure of their personal data, as well as information on company devices,” it continued.

According to recent figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in the first six months of the current fiscal year, nearly 15,000 searches were conducted. In fact, business travelers using company devices may need to state whether information on those devices is confidential or privileged so that border officials will segregate and protect it from unauthorized disclosure. Other federal laws may restrict how U.S. Customs and Border Protection is allowed to handle such information. Company policies should address employees’ use of company devices during international travel to prepare them in case they are searched or asked to hand over passwords or the devices.

“Employees applying for visas, work permits or residency should expect that any details gathered from their social media platforms can be used as a basis to refuse their application,” says Brendan Kinne, director of global programmes in BAL’s Houston office.

Consular officials who adjudicate visa applications are also using information on social media sites to screen applicants for visas, work permits and residency. In fact, officials are scrutinising applicants’ social media profiles for application inconsistencies, connections to extremist organisations, and posts that could be considered hate speech under the host country’s laws.

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