U.S. to start collecting social media data on immigrants

Maryland readers may be interested to learn that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to begin collecting social media and search results information on all immigrants. The plan was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 18 and will take effect on Oct. 18.

According to media reports, the policy will let DHS agents compile data from immigrants’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, including their social media handles and social media aliases. It will also allow the department to obtain data on search engine results. The policy will cover immigrants who have a green card and those who are naturalized citizens. It is not yet known if the new policy gives DHS the right to obtain search histories from Google, Bing and other internet search engines.

When asked by the media to comment on the announcement, DHS claimed that the expansion is not a new policy. The agency said that it already analyzes social media interactions in order to protect the United States and that the announcement was simply an update of its Privacy Act records.

U.S. immigration law is complex and ever-changing. Therefore, many immigrants seek the advice of an immigration attorney as they navigate the visa application process. An attorney could help a client obtain a green card, student visa, work visa or family visa. They could also represent individuals who are being investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security and aid those who are seeking asylum through the court.

Source: Gizmodo, “US Homeland Security Will Start Collecting Social Media Info on All Immigrants October 18th,” Matt Novak, Sept. 26, 2017

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