UPDATE: See our more detailed analysis of this DHS notice.
For some time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been collecting and scrutinizing the social media of certain immigrants and foreign visitors. This chills and deters the free speech and association not just of these immigrants and visitors, but also of all the U.S. citizens who communicate with them. EFF has long opposed this.
DHS recently published a notice that it will store this social media information in “A-Files.” This is a government record keeping system that tracks immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens.
EFF opposes this newly disclosed feature of DHS’s invasive system of social media surveillance of immigrants. It was bad enough that the government was collecting and scrutinizing the social media of law-abiding immigrants and visitors. It is even worse that the government is storing this sensitive information in A-Files. This indicates that DHS is storing this sensitive information indefinitely, making it available to many officials across this vast department, and using it against immigrants when making all manner of decisions about immigration status, from deportation through naturalization.
The context of DHS’s notice is troubling. DHS increasingly is subjecting immigrants to many kinds of high tech surveillance, including facial recognition and cell site simulators. Moreover, government increasingly is using social media monitoring against political dissidents such as Black Lives Matter.
DHS should stop subjecting law-abiding immigrants to social media surveillance.