Department of Homeland Security publishes new agency information collection activities in the Federal Register regarding DHS social media surveillance.


DHS social media surveillance is expanding according to a new notice published September 4, 2019, in the Federal Register. Applicants for USCIS/CBP benefits will now be asked to provide social media information dating back five years.

The move is in coordination with DHS efforts to comply with Section 5 of Executive Order 13780, which can be found here.

“This collection of information necessary to comply with Section 5 of the E.O. [Executive Order] to establish screening and vetting standards and procedures to enable DHS to assess an alien’s eligibility to travel to or be admitted to the United States or to receive an immigration-related benefit from DHS. This data collection also is used to validate an applicant’s identity information and to determine whether such travel or grant of a benefit poses a law enforcement or national security risk to the United States.” (See the notice published in the Federal Register).

USCIS Forms Requesting Social Media Information

Previously, only forms DS-160 and DS-156 were changed to collect data on social media accounts.

Among the new social media data collection activities includes updates to at least nine (9) USCIS forms. Such forms will request applicants provide information related to their social media accounts, including Individual Identifiers / Usernames / Handles / Nicknames over the last five years. These forms include:

Privacy and Limits of DHS Surveillance

DHS states in the notice that it will limit its surveillance of social media accounts to that which is accessible under the user’s existing privacy settings.

“DHS personnel will review information on social media platforms in a manner consistent with the privacy settings the applicant has chosen to adopt for those platforms. Only that information which the account holder has allowed to be shared publicly will be viewable by DHS.” (See the relevant section in the Federal Register (46557-46561)).

In other words, your individual privacy settings can affect what the DHS can see or not see in your social media accounts.

Social Media Networks

The following are the social media networks for which the forms will request applicant’s profile information:

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If you or someone you know are concerned about DHS social media surveillance, or just have questions about the new social media data collection efforts, Christians Law, PLLC is here to help. Tyler Christians is an experienced immigration attorney and can help you with your immigration needs.

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