The US Government will collect Social Media Data on Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed measures of acquiring more information about immigrants and VISA holders as part of the government’s program to expand the knowledge that security services and forces have on the non-citizens. The Department has suggested the acquisition of personal online information from search results on Google and social media networks such as Facebook.

Immigrants Social Media Data
The Federal Register is not particular about the amount of information that the government will collect on each person. At the moment, the register targets immigrants who have not acquired citizenship. This move is critical because the Trump Administration has discussed its intentions to expand the ‘Alien Files’ as part of its security framework.

This file stores detailed information profiles of immigrants and is meant for use by various authorities such as border agents, the police, and judges. The report states that not all visitors to the United States will be subjected to these extra layers of security checks. Like Trump’s Travel Ban, there are several countries that the US Government wants to monitor.

The decision to review this information is expected to have a chilling effect on the potential visitors to the United States. The ACLU has warned of possible censorship, and cyber attacks should such information ever be compromised. Other groups have expressed similar sentiments noting that the proposal will likely be politicized to lock out or harass immigrants with certain opinions that are not popular with the current government.

Other civil rights groups have warned that such a move will introduce a situation that curtails the first amendment by filtering acceptable speech on various platforms. The report also claims that it may be necessary for the individuals who live in the high-risk countries to provide Federal access to their phone book contacts. Civil rights groups have cautioned that other countries could easily demand that Americans entering their territories surrender such information in revenge.

Safety Concerns
The policies are expected to go into effect after various comments and revisions. They will go into the Privacy Act which states that the government of the United States requires the social media data of immigrants as part of its commitment to the safety and security of the citizens of the country.

Once implemented, the move might start a domino of new concerns across the world. It is probable that more social media users will be repelled against giving out much information about their lives to social media websites fearing that it may be used by governments in future against them.

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Dil Bole Oberoi