Federal officials have set in motion a new rule that allows the government to collect social media from all immigrants—including people who are already permanent residents and naturalized citizens.
The guidelines state that “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” will be part of people’s immigration files. The rule is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 18.
As The Hill points out, the rule is an escalation of a prior Trump-administration decision, in which a request for social media accounts was added to a new questionnaire that would be given to all visa applicants.
This new rule, however, is more comprehensive and wouldn’t apply just to new applicants. Legal residents of the U.S., as well as naturalized Americans, would now have to submit social media info to the government.
As BuzzFeed reports, the new DHS rule is concerning for privacy advocates, and security and immigration experts say that there is no evidence that obtaining social media information helps with vetting immigrants. Instead, the social media and internet histories the federal government obtains could be used to assess the personal and political views of U.S. citizens and foreigners.
“The question is, do we really want the government monitoring political views?” Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security program, told BuzzFeed.
“Social media may not be able to predict violence,” he said, “but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person’s political and religious views.”