For privacy wonks and casual observers alike, border screening and surveillance has become an increasing area of critical concern over the last year. Around the world, invasive governments have particularly threatened people's digital privacy. That extends to the US, where Customs and Border Protection has expanded its demands and searches as well. And a fraught situation for travelers is even more so for US immigrants who are having more and more of their digital and social media footprint monitored by the Department of Homeland Security.
The agency's recent initiatives came into focus last week, when DHS posted updated language in the Federal Register about collecting “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” on immigrants, including naturalized citizens and permanent residents. DHS also issued a notice about changes to its Intelligence Records System database that will store “public-source data (including information from social media)” and will gather information from a host of sources, including “commercial data providers and public sources such as social media, news media outlets, and the Internet.”