Social media accounts are being checked for political views in the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon begin collecting social media data from all immigrants entering the United States, part of what agency officials call an effort to more effectively screen those coming to the country but privacy advocates see as an unnecessary intrusion that would do little to protect national security.
Green card holders and naturalized citizens will also have their social media information collected, with the data becoming part of their immigration file. It was unclear whether the monitoring would take place only in the application process or could continue afterward.
The DHS published the new requirement in the Federal Register, saying it would collect “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results,” which would be included in an applicant’s immigration file. It said the data would come from “publicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers.”
The data collection has alarmed privacy groups and lawyers, who expressed concerns on about how the department would use the information. Advocates say they also worry that the monitoring could suck in information on Americans and citizens of any country in the world who communicate over social media with any potential US immigrants.