US Homeland Security to start collecting social media data from immigrants

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to start collecting social media data from immigrants starting from October 18th.

The new rule was published in the Federal Register last week, and will apply to all immigrants including green card holders and naturalised citizens.

It’s yet unclear as to exactly what data will be fair game under the new rule, but wording suggests that the DHS will be collecting information about immigrants’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as “associated identifiable information, and search results.” The DHS already has an information sharing agreement with Google and this new rule suggests that any data collected as part of this agreement may be included in immigration files.

Buzzfeed news points out that in February of this year, a report published by the Office of Inspector General found that pilot programmes to monitor social media activity couldn’t prove it’s effectiveness in preventing terrorism.

Some have pointed out that if online conversations are to be monitored then this rule will also affect anyone who interacts with immigrants.

Considering that many people, including the US President himself, share their political views on social media, there are concerns that this new rule could see immigrants to the US being vetted based on their ideological beliefs.

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