U.S. to Collect Social Media Data on New Immigrants

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security soon will begin collecting social media data from all immigrants entering the U.S., but privacy advocates see the move as an unnecessary intrusion that would do little to protect national security, the New York Times reports.

The department will begin collecting the information on Oct. 18, the same day the administration’s new travel ban on citizens of seven countries and restrictions on those from two others are set to take effect. Green card holders and naturalized citizens will also have their social media information collected, with the data becoming part of their immigration file.

The department said it would collect “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results,” which would be included in an applicant’s immigration file. It said the data would come from “publicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers.”

The data collection has alarmed privacy groups and lawyers, who expressed concerns on about how the department would use the information. Advocates worry that the monitoring could suck in information on American citizens who communicate over social media with immigrants.

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