The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expand the categories of records it collects on immigrants to include social media data.
In a new rule listed in the Federal Register and set to go into effect October 18, DHS will make “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” part of an immigrant's official record. The rule will apply to new immigrants as well as naturalized citizens and permanent residents.
In what it said was an attempt to spot terrorists, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) had already amended Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form to request information on immigrants' online personas.
The current “Privacy Act notice makes clear that the government intends to retain the social media information of people who have immigrated to this country, singling out a huge group of people to maintain files on what they say,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement. “This would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the free speech that's expressed every day on social media.”
The rights organization said the “collect-it-all approach is ineffective to protect national security and is one more example of the Trump administration's anti-immigrant agenda.”