National Security

DHS planning to collect social media info on all immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security has moved to collect social media information on all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens.

A new rule published in the Federal Register last week calls to include "social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results" in the department's immigrant files.

BuzzFeed News first reported the new rule on Monday. It is set to go into effect on Oct. 18 after a public comment period.

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.

Homeland Security's inspector general published a report earlier this year concluding that DHS pilot programs for using social media to screen immigration applicants "lack criteria for measuring performance to ensure they meet their objectives."

"Although the pilots include some objectives, such as determining the effectiveness of an automated search tool and assessing data collection and dissemination procedures, it is not clear DHS is measuring and evaluating the pilots' results to determine how well they are performing against set criteria," the report reads.

In May, the Trump administration approved a new questionnaire for visa applicants that requests social media handles for the past five years, as well as biographical information going back 15 years.

The rule filed last week, however, goes beyond would-be visitors to the U.S. and would also apply to those who have already obtained a green card or gone through the naturalization process.

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