US Government Plans to Turn to Facebook to Police Immigrants
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced recently that it will soon collect social media data from all immigrants entering the U.S.
According to a report in the NY Times, green card holders and naturalized citizens will also have their information collected (and you and I thought Facebook was free!) with the data becoming part of their immigration file.
They wrote that data would be collected from “publically available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers.”
This has alarmed privacy groups and lawyers about how the government would use the information and could suck in Americans who speak with immigrants over social media.
Companies such as Google and Facebook take personal information that people post on social media and sell it to third-party operators who use it to sell products. However, that information is also being sent to the government which will use it to monitor and police people.
The Times wrote that many members of Congress began urging Homeland Security to use data from visa applicants’ social media accounts.
The Obama administration like Trump also collected social media information to spy on people.
Some groups are concerned about the lack of transparency about how the government is using the information.
Chicago News interviewed Lori Andrews, the author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy, a fascinating book about internet privacy who called for an online constitution to guard our right to privacy.
She documented how employers, insurers, colleges and the government collect information from peoples’ social media accounts to deny them insurance or a job based on certain images or words posted on their social media accounts.
In other words, all those friendly smiling faces you post of your family and friends could one day end up in the wrong hands to be used against you.
“I was shocked to learn that our rights of free speech, freedom of association, and privacy don’t apply online as they do offline,” she told Chicago News. “People have been fired because they had a glass of wine in their hands in a Facebook photo, even though drinking is perfectly legal if you are over 21. Police have used people’s Google searches as proof that they were thinking of committing a crime. Women have lost custody of their children when judges thought their Facebook photos were too sexy.”
The IIT professor of law proposed a Social Network Constitution to protect people’s rights online. The Illinois legislature passed a law forbidding employers from asking for applicants’ private social network passwords.
Andrews pointed out that we have a Constitution that protects us from the government, but not third parties like Facebook who have more information on us than anybody and can team up with the government to spy on us.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called Facebook one of the “most appalling spy machines.”
“Assume that employers, colleges, insurers, and the government can read all your posts,” said Andrews.
Andrews recommended using Statepage.com or Duckduckgo.com, two excellent search engines that do not track you and will protect your privacy, unlike Google Search.