Featured News

ACLU Demands Trump Surveillance Records of Immigrants and Citizens

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Thursday demanding government records concerning social media surveillance of immigrants and U.S. citizens under the Trump administration.

The filing, sent to seven different agencies of the United States government, said that recent tactics displayed by the Trump administration had raised very serious concerns about the privacy of individuals in this country, both citizens and non-citizens.

“Social media surveillance is not entirely new, but it appears that we’re seeing a dramatic spike in the federal government’s use of social media surveillance,” Hugh Handeyside, a senior attorney with the ACLU said during an interview with NBC News.

Handeyside said that his group hopes to learn how Trump’s federal agencies are collecting and using content obtained from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook

To get more stories like this, subscribe to our newsletter The Daily.

Since the goal of the ACLU is to protect civil liberties, the government’s reported surveillance tactics have raised many concerns with them about the new threats to our constitutional rights and civil liberties. Areas of concern for the ACLU include racial and religious discrimination, the right to privacy, and the potential chilling effect on free speech if people knew they were being surveilled by the federal government.

Handeyside said that evidence indicates that government surveillance is “targeted overwhelmingly at racial and religious minority communities.”

In March the U.S. State Department announced a proposal that would require millions of applicants for U.S. visas “to provide any identifiers used by applicants for listed social media platforms during the five years preceding the date of application” for the visa.

According to Handeyside:

“The State Department has issued several notices disclosing that it intends to gather social media identifiers from individuals seeking to visit or immigrate to the U.S. — the scope of those notices really has expanded gathering information from pretty much everyone who wants to come to the U.S., so that’s over 14 million people.”

Handeyside referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s move last year to collect the “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results” of all immigrants looking to enter the country as evidence for the ACLU concerns.  He also said that the FBI has established a special task force to monitor social media.

“We’re increasingly concerned about this. I think it warrants a concerted effort to pull back the curtain on what the consequences are and what tools it’s using,” he said. “They’re not just watching you. This kind of social media surveillance has consequences. The FBI and DHS are, it appears, using social media surveillance for investigative purpose.”

The government agencies that received the FOIA requests are the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the State Department.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for free speech online said that there was “episodic” social media surveillance during the Obama presidency but the current administration has been “expanding” these efforts.

During this time of increasing threats to the privacy of individuals it is important that we become aware of these threats and take actions that will protect our freedoms.  That is the goal of the ACLU and we will all be better off if they are successful.

Recent Posts

Stephen Colbert Nails Trump With A KKK Joke

Stephen Colbert managed to work a joke about Trump's racism and the KKK into his…

3 hours ago

This Is A Masterful Take Down Of Trump By Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart took down Trump after day one of the hush money trial with a…

4 hours ago

Rachel Maddow Blasts Buffoonish Trump For Falling Asleep In Court

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow blasted Trump and called him "buffoonish" for falling asleep during his criminal…

9 hours ago

Trump To Face Hearing For Potential Gag Order Violations Next Week

Judge Merchan has moved up the hearing for Trump's potential violations of the gag order…

13 hours ago

Tiny Crowd Shows Up To Support Trump At Trial

Although a "couple million" Trump supporters live within an hour of his trial on Monday,…

14 hours ago

Trump Is Reportedly Unresponsive And Sleeping At Criminal Trial

Donald Trump is reportedly not responding to notes from his lawyer, and falling asleep at…

14 hours ago