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Brennan Center Urges Rejection of Proposal to Collect Social Media Data

The Brennan Center and 41 other organization submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security strongly opposing its plan to collect social media identifiers from people traveling to the US or applying for immigration-related benefits.

Published: November 5, 2019

On Novem­ber 4, 2019, the Bren­nan Center — along with the ACLU, the Elec­tronic Privacy Inform­a­tion Center, the Center for Demo­cracy and Tech­no­logy, and 38 other civil, human, and immig­rant rights organ­iz­a­tions — sent comments to the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity oppos­ing the Depart­ment’s plan to expand its collec­tion of social media inform­a­tion. By notice published Septem­ber 4, 2019, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity proposed to ask certain people seek­ing to travel or be admit­ted to the United States, or apply­ing for immig­ra­tion-related bene­fits to provide all social media iden­ti­fi­ers used in the past five years, among other inform­a­tion. The disclos­ure require­ment is anti­cip­ated to affect at least 33 million people annu­ally. As described in the comments, the agency’s collec­tion of addi­tional inform­a­tion will under­mine privacy rights and First Amend­ment rights of speech, expres­sion, and asso­ci­ation. Addi­tion­ally, the agency’s use of social media data for social media monit­or­ing and screen­ings will likely result in arbit­rary, inef­fect­ive, incon­sist­ent, and discrim­in­at­ory determ­in­a­tions.