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US Immigrants Will Soon Be Officially Under Surveillance On Social Media

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The Department of Homeland Security has moved to collect social media information on all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens, a move that has alarmed lawyers and privacy groups worried about how the information will be used.
 
According to the new rule published in the Federal Register last week, the information collected will include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” as part of people’s immigration file. The new requirement takes effect Oct. 18. 2017.

Concerns

This move has alarmed lawyers and privacy groups worried about how the information will be used. Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for privacy and free expression, said the plan was disturbing.

“We see this as part of a larger process of high-tech surveillance of immigrants and more and more people being subjected to social media screening,” Schwartz told BuzzFeed News. “There’s a growing trend at the Department of Homeland Security to be snooping on the social media of immigrants and foreigners and we think it’s an invasion of privacy and deters freedom of speech.”

DHS Argument

DHS said the amendment posted last week is not a new policy. It was added in an effort to be transparent, to comply with existing regulations, and due to updates in the electronic immigration system the agency said.

According to BuzzFeed, the new rule could also affect U.S. citizens who communicate with immigrants on social media by making their conversations the subject of government surveillance. 

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