Social media

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published documents on Monday that detail a plan for collecting extra information on all US immigrants, including not only permanent residents but also previously naturalized citizens.

According to a notice of modification to the 1974 Privacy Act System of Records, the DHS wants to collect extra information such as "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results."

The data will be used to expand the DHS' database on US immigrants with new information that would allow for easier tracking of immigrants, but also Americans who obtained official citizenship years or decades before.

Document is a consequence of the San Bernardino shooting

Experts believe the DHS has taken this step as a direct consequence of the San Bernardino shooting that was carried out by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. The latter was a former Pakistani citizen who obtained US citizenship after getting married to Farook, a Chicago native whose parents also immigrated from Pakistan.

The US believes that by gathering such data from immigrants it would be able to prevent similar future incidents.

The DHS would not require passwords from the targeted user group, but the collected information is more than enough to create accurate profiles on immigrants and their circle of friends.

In December 2016, US Customs started collecting similar social media details from foreigners from certain countries entering the US. This new DHS document is different because it covers people already in the US, some of whom have been living in the country for years.

Document went largely unnoticed

The DHS notice is open to a comment period that ends in 22 days, on October 18, when the notice is scheduled to enter into effect.

The document's publication went largely unnoticed as President Trump signed a new travel ban into effect on the same day, setting new travel restrictions for people entering the US from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.

The new travel ban comes to replace a previous travel ban currently stuck in courts that was aimed at people traveling to the US from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.