Detroit Free Press:
For immigrants and naturalized citizens, something as simple as a Facebook “like” on the wrong post could spell trouble with Homeland Security or end with them being turned away at the border.
According to legal and privacy experts, a Department of Homeland Security policy made public on Sept. 18 could send the country into uncharted territory when it comes to immigration protocol by targeting permanent residents and naturalized citizens for their online activities.
The policy, published as a notice on the Federal Register, expands the categories of records kept on file for permanent U.S. residents and naturalized citizens to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results” but did not spell out how the information would be collected.
Nuala O’Connor, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy & Technology, said that she is deeply concerned about the scope of inquiry given the Trump administration’s actions on immigration and that it’s uncertain how the policy will play out in practice.
O’Connor, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from the United Kingdom and served as the first Chief Privacy Officer at the Department of Homeland Security in the George W. Bush administration, said she finds the inclusion of naturalized citizens surprising.
“Heretofore I did not believe that being a naturalized citizen made me a second-class citizen of this country. And I find that, on its face, separate and apart from the categories of data, to be concerning,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor fears that the policy could have a chilling effect on speech, travel and immigration from certain countries and online spaces.
O’Connor said the policy “flies in the face of what we believe is the best and highest use of Internet communications to bring people together, to allow people to speak anonymously when necessary, when they feel like it is essential to their personal safety and security when speaking out against the government, whether our government or other governments.”