Homeland Security plans to collect immigrants' social media info

(CBS) - Every U.S. immigrant's social media history could get new scrutiny starting Oct. 18.

It would also affect green card holders and naturalized citizens. The new provision, introduced to the Federal Register on Sept. 18, was first spotted by BuzzFeed News. 

Digital privacy at the borders has increasingly become an issue for immigrants trying to enter the U.S.

Border patrol agents said in July that they wouldn't search through a person's cloud data. On Sept. 13, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the DHS after 11 travelers had their laptops and phones searched without warrants at U.S. borders.  It's been reported that border agents have also been checking people's Facebook profiles. The State Department in May said it wanted to search through five years of social media history to grant U.S. visas.

While some people view their social media profiles as a haven for friends and family, government officials see it as a cache of data they can use to decide if a person is a national threat. That's raising privacy concerns.

The new regulation would amass a database of all immigrants, including green card holders and naturalized citizens, and contain details like handles, aliases and search results on social media. The DHS could also collect data on anybody that communicates with an immigrant, according to BuzzFeed.

The DHS didn't respond to a request for comment.

Despite all the demand for social media information, it's unclear how effective it actually is. The DHS reviewed its pilot program for social media screening in February, and said "it is not clear DHS is measuring and evaluating the pilots' results to determine how well they are performing against set criteria."

Article from CBSNews.com

This article originally appeared on CNET.


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