The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced it would begin collecting social media information for all immigrants entering the country. The announcement, published in the Federal Register a few days ago, and first noticed by BuzzFeed News, states any non-natural citizen will be subject to the new policy, starting October 18.
The Federal Register justifies the collection of this data explaining, “The purpose of this system of records is to facilitate administration of benefits and enforcement of provisions under the INA and related immigration statutes.”
Naturally, changes like these spark doubts about how the DHS will be using this kind of data. Our digital profile is nearly as intimate as getting to know a person in “real life.” The content we share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram make up much of our identity, including our interactions and interests.
The document also explains that “DHS is updating the DHS/USCIS/ICE/CBP-001 Alien File, Index, and National File Tracking System of Records,” and goes on to explain 12 changes which will be taking place. One of the the most relevant being:
(5) expand the categories of records to include the following: country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results; and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office for Immigration Review and Board of Immigration Appeals proceedings information
It’s interesting to see the new ways in which the state will be able to legally look into its citizens’ lives. For now it’s limited to immigrants, but how long will it be until it includes the entire population?