The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin to collect social media information on all immigrants starting Oct. 18.
Under the new policy, which affects immigrants who have obtained green cards and naturalized citizens, an immigrant’s file will include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.”
“It’s not immediately clear if that means the agency will have access to things such as Google search histories nor is it clear how that would be obtained,” Gizmodo reported Tuesday.
BuzzFeed reported that the DHS published the new rule in the Federal Register last week.
The type of data that will be collected under “information sharing agreements” is not specified by the policy, but it could cover agreements the DHS has with Google and internet service providers.
Critics of the policy are worried that it will infringe on privacy and free speech, especially since this policy could mean anyone who interacts with an immigrant will make their social media subject to surveillance.
Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s liberty and national security program, voiced privacy concerns to BuzzFeed.
“The question is do we really want the government monitoring political views?” Patel said. “Social media may not be able to predict violence but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person’s political and religious views.”