Sunday, 8 April 2018

Is the U.S. becoming a country hostile to Australian tourists?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were 13.7 million internet subscribers in Australia at the end of June 2017 and a 2016 Deloitte survey found that 84% of Australians had a smart phone.

An est. 20 million Australians use a social media platform like Facebook, Instragram or Twitter via a desktop computer or mobile phone.

Because we are one of the most digitally connected populations in the world the United States is about to pose an additional risk to our personal Internet privacy and safety if we seek any form of visa entry into that country.

ABC News, 31 March 2018:

A US federal government proposal to collect social media identities of nearly everyone who seeks entry into the country has been described as a "chilling" encroachment on freedom of speech and association.

The State Department filed a proposal which would require most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to list all social media identities they have used in the past five years, as well as previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and their international travel history over the same period.

The information would be used to vet and identify them, which would affect about 14.7 million people annually.

The proposal goes further than rules instituted last May. Those changes instructed consular officials to collect social media identities only when they determined "that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting," a State Department official said at the time.

The proposal requires approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) but it supports President Donald Trump's campaign promise to institute "extreme vetting" of foreigners entering the US to prevent terrorism.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern, saying the move would have a "chilling" effect on freedom of speech and association.

"People will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official," Hina Shamsi, director of ACLU's National Security Project, said in a statement.

"We're also concerned about how the Trump administration defines the vague and over-broad term a 'terrorist activities' because it is inherently political and can be used to discriminate against immigrants who have done nothing wrong.

Australian public opinion was changing on the subject of US-Australia relations before this latest Trump Regime move against digital privacy - it began to shift after Donald Trump was elected US president......

ABC News, January 2018:

Recent polling by the United States Studies Centre (USSC) and YouGov — surveying both Australians and Americans — gives mixed grades on American strength after the first year of Mr Trump's presidency. Perceptions of American strength and international security are closely linked for large portions of the publics in both countries — with some interesting exceptions. Our data suggest that many see the world as more dangerous precisely because the United States is perceived to be weaker under Mr Trump.

Almost half of Australians report that the United States has grown weaker over the past 12 months.

Only 19 per cent of Australians think America has grown stronger over the first year of the Trump presidency.

Americans are less dour in their assessments, with 36 per cent saying that the United States has become weaker over the last year. "Weaker" leads "stronger" by 27 points in the Australian data, but this difference is just six points among Americans….

Does a stronger (or weaker) America under Mr Trump affect assessments of Australia's security? It's complicated. In the aggregate, Australians associate a stronger America with a safer world and a safer United States, but this does not extend to assessments of Australian security.

More than half of Coalition voters say Australia faces more danger than a few years ago, irrespective of assessments of American power under Mr Trump. Labor voters and minor party supporters do associate a weaker America with a less secure Australia.

For Greens voters — at best sceptical about the US-Australia relationship — a weaker America makes for a safer Australia. Most Greens voters report that America is weaker under Mr Trump and just 32 per cent of those see heightened dangers for Australia over the last few years; among Greens seeing America as stronger under Mr Trump, half report things becoming more dangerous for Australia, although the small number of Greens in our data prevent firm conclusions.

Historically, a robust, bipartisan consensus has seen little partisanship in Australian public opinion on the value of Australia's relationship with the United States. Our data suggest that this equilibrium is under some stress. References to Mr Trump activate partisan differences in Australian thinking about the United States. While Australians (like Americans) associate increases in American power with a safer world, a perceived link with enhanced Australian security is weak at best (and probably inverted for Greens voters).

On the other hand, despite large partisan divisions, Americans continue to associate American strength with increased security for America's allies.

This proposition has been the bedrock of Australian foreign policy and defence thinking for decades, and remains so, Mr Trump notwithstanding. Accordingly, our data allows us to restate the challenge for the current generation of Australian policy makers and political leaders: articulating the value and relevance of the US relationship to an Australian public at best unsure about the direction of the United States under Mr Trump and the implications for Australia's security and prosperity.

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