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Government Surveillance

CDT Joins Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Groups Urging DHS to End Collection of Social Media Identifiers and Content

The Center for Democracy & Technology has joined 22 civil liberties and civil rights groups on a letter calling on the Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, to end DHS’ collection of social media identifiers and social media content. We point out that to date, DHS has failed to show that its collection of social media information is necessary and is an efficient use of resources. CDT believes that using social media information to draw adverse inferences about a person’s eligibility for immigration relief such as political asylum, or for admission to the U.S., is risky. Statements made on social media can be misinterpreted, especially in the immigration context where those statements are made in multiple languages.

We also called into question many of the DHS intrusive surveillance activities involving third party vendors, including its purchase of access to vast data bases of cell phone location information. We also asked DHS to adopt a moratorium on its use of facial recognition to make high stakes immigration-related decisions.

The letter covers a wide range of other issues that we raised with Secretary Mayorkas in a July 23 meeting.

Read the full letter + the list of signatories here.