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ACLU Sues Federal Government Over Social Media Surveillance

first_img Minnesota Cop Awarded $585K Over Unlawful License LookupsResearchers Train Drones to Spot Violent Behavior The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the federal government to gain information on its social media surveillance—specifically the Trump administration’s controversial “extreme vetting” immigration policy.Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawsuit accuses seven federal agencies—including the DoJ, FBI, Homeland Security, and several immigration services—of failing to produce records in response to a 2018 FOIA request.The document, filed in May, seeks information on how the government collects and analyzes posts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.AdChoices广告“Government surveillance of social media raises serious constitutional and privacy concerns,” according to the ACLU appeal. “Most online speech reflects no wrongdoing whatsoever and is fully protected by the First Amendment.“When government agencies collect or share individuals’ online speech without any connection to investigation of actual criminal conduct,” it continued, “they foster suspicion about individuals and make it more likely that innocent people will be investigated, surveilled, or watchlisted.”In response, the FBI claimed it “can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to [the ACLU’s] request.”Simply acknowledging its use of social media surveillance would “risk circumvention of the law,” the Bureau said.Except, the domestic intelligence and security service has repeatedly acknowledged—on official government websites—that it contracts with data analytics firms to obtain “the mission critical social media monitoring” and “software that parses and analyzes social media data.”The six other agencies “haven’t produced a single document,” ACLU attorneys Hugh Handeyside and Matt Cagle wrote in a blog post.“Based on what little information is publicly available, it’s clear that the federal government routinely tracks domestic social media users, with a particular focus on immigrants,” the blog said.In May 2017, President Trump announced an “extreme vetting” initiative that includes seeking social media handles for those visa applicants deemed suspect by immigration agents.The State Department followed up with plans to require most of the 14.7 million people who annually apply for work or tourist visas to submit social media identifiers used in the past five years in order to travel or immigrate to the US.“It’s clear from already public information that all of the agencies we’re targeting in our FOIA lawsuit engage in manual and automated surveillance of social media users and their speech, and it’s unacceptable for the government to withhold details about this domestic spying,” Cagle and Handeyside said.“The public needs to know how the government is watching us,” they added. “And we shouldn’t have to think about self-censoring what we say online.”More on Geek.com:Trump Expected to Sign Bill Renewing Internet Surveillance ProgramSecret Service to Pilot Facial Recognition at White HouseNew AI-Powered System Can Identify You By the Way You Walk Stay on targetlast_img read more