Several changes have been made to strengthen security rules for the admission of foreign nationals to the United States since late 2015.
The November 2015 attacks in Paris revealed certain shortcomings in terms of monitoring the individuals who actively participated, particularly because they were relatively active on social networks and early detection of their activities could have alerted the authorities.
A short time later, the government found very similar gaps in detection at the federal agency level following the attack on San Bernardino in California.
These attacks took place a few weeks before the US Congress passed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 in early December.
Following the January 2016 elections, the Trump administration decided to further strengthen the eligibility rules, in particular by introducing increased detection of the Internet activity of visa and ESTA authorisation applicants.
It is in this context that the ESTA form was updated at the end of 2016 with the addition of questions on the countries previously visited, and therefore the request for the applicants’ social network identifiers.