Beginning October 18, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will collect and store “social-media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results” of all immigrants in the country – even green card holders and naturalized U.S. Citizens. This constitutes a tremendous violation of privacy not only for the foreign-born but for any native-born U.S. citizen who happens to be communicating with an immigrant via social media.
According to data, currently, there are more than 43 million foreign-born people living in the country. And even if native-born U.S. citizens don’t personally know someone, they are most likely to show up in those massive files somewhere for communicating with an immigrant on social media. So, pretty much the whole country is on the radar.
The worrying part is, there seems to be no transparency in this new system; how the information is used remains a mystery whether you are an immigrant or a native U.S. citizen. Furthermore, beyond the issue of privacy, there are also concerns that mining of social media has no workable metrics by which to measure success. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stated more than once that “bulk communication collection’ is an unreliable means of catching terrorists.
The department’s collection of data starts on the same day, the Trump administration’s new travel bans on seven countries and restrictions on those from two others are set to take effect. While this marks a dramatic expansion in government surveillance in this country, it does not guarantee that this development would make us any safer.