DHS to Collect Every Immigrant's Digital Footprint

Starting October 18, 2017, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin collecting all available online information on all US immigrants, be it naturalized or Green Card holders. In a notice published on the Federal Register, the DHS announced that social media history as well all online searches will be vetted if it came out of an existing immigrants background. All future social media conversations will be monitored as well. This is being done in a continuous effort of securing the country from untoward terrorist harm.

The US government had previously initiated requesting social media accounts from anyone applying for a US visa or the Visa Waiver program. US visa applicants were expected to reveal details of their social media handles for the past five years. This meant it was only targeting the latest inbound travelers to the US. The new rule however intends to cast a wider net and begin scrutinizing search histories, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts among others social media of all immigrants from the past as well. These include all those who have been naturalized as well as those who have legal permanent residency. This is also allowing the DHS to collect data on anyone who communicates with an immigrant, past or present.

While this raises privacy concerns, the DHS claims that in its law enforcement and immigration process capacity, they can scrutinize any publicly available information of anyone on American soil with an intention to identify and single out anyone that may be a treat to the nation. This information is going to be kept in the immigrant’s “A-file” or Alien file.