Starting Oct. 18, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be reviewing the social media accounts of immigrants entering the U.S., green card holders and naturalized citizens, reports The New York Times.
The move, ordered by the Trump Administration, will begin on the same day as the president’s new revised travel ban.
The executive order is called the “Modified Privacy Act System of Records.” Here’s the type of information that the government can access: “[P]ublicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements.”
That includes “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.” So, even if you’re tweeting behind @xoxloloasj0013 with a picture of an egg as your profile, they can still find you.
It’s not completely new. The government has been gathering social media information from immigrants since 2012.
NPR notes that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services already has files on incoming immigrants and people who are applying for travel visas and citizenship, including permanent residents and green card holders. Under the new policy, all the information can now be shared within government agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol and the Transportation Security Administration.
There are several problematic issues with this new policy. Hugh Handeyside, Staff Attorney at the ACLU National Security Project, says the main thing the government wants to do is screen the social media accounts of non-citizens.
“This kind of social media surveillance will dampen freedom of expression online, because people self-censor and avoid controversy when they know the government is watching,” Handeyside writes. “And such surveillance inevitably sweeps up the social media content of family members, friends and associates, including U.S. citizens.”
So even if you’re a U.S. citizen and chatting on Twitter with your Mexican cousin who happens to be a DREAMer or DACA recipient, your social media pages may be on their radar too.
Angy Rivera, Co-Director of the NYS Youth Leadership Council, tweeted some very useful information about what the government looks for in suspicious online behavior and how to protect yourself.
— ANGY (@AskAngy) September 29, 2017
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