Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

Enlarge / Automobiles entering the USA from Canada at the Customs and Border Protection Sweetgrass border crossing on Interstate 15 in Sweetgrass, Montana. (credit: William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on ProPublica on November 22, 2017. It has been lightly edited.

The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

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