Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Florida Library Association on Changes to Privacy Act

The Florida Library Association Opposes the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to DHS/USCIS-001 Alien File, Index, and National File Tracking System of Records
In response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
docket number DHS-2017-0038, Modified Privacy Act System of Records, The Florida Library Association strongly opposes changes to DHS/USCIS-001 that includes vague and deceptive language that would result in the deprivation of civil rights based on the following:

1.      This rule would change the Privacy Act of 1974, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to track the social media and online searches of immigrants, permanent residents, naturalized citizens and regular born-citizens who associate in any way with the first three groups.

2.      If accepted, this rule would result in a vast majority of US citizens online actions being surveilled by the U.S. government, without cause except that one is an ‘associate’ of some kind, of an individual going through the immigration process.

3.      Personal information will be permanently stored, and it will be linked / shared with other data sources and agencies maintained by the federal government. This will result in evidence that is impermissible in courts as it would violate due process under both the 4th and 5th amendments, resulting in arbitrary denial of life, liberty or property, and putting states in an unlawful position to enforce this position.

4.      This government direction stands in opposition to an American Library Association Resolution from 2006-2007, linking an immigrant’s rights and the Library Bill of Rights: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advocacy/diversity/libraries-respond-immigrants-refugees-and-asylum-seekers.

5.      The 2006-2007 Resolution in Support of Immigrant Rights recognizes the need to oppose any legislation that infringes on the rights of…anyone (including an individual's nationality, residency, or status)…to use library resources, programs and services on national, state and local levels. This change would result in surveillance of American citizens simply because of an assumed, online relationship.

Just as the government and other entities taking of library records of use is prohibited by law, the comparable taking of Social Media records would have the same chilling effect on Constitutional Rights to privacy that assure adherence to the First Amendment.

Libraries have long been a locus of citizen, resident and immigrant free access to and use of the Internet – alongside material and virtual collections -- and DHS/USCIS-001 would undermine longstanding professional and Constitutional norms that assure equal access and service to all.

 We side with the ACLU, and the words of Falz Shakir, national political director, American Civil Liberties Union:

 "This Privacy Act notice makes clear that the government intends to retain the social media information of people who have immigrated to this country, singling out a huge group of people to maintain files on what they say. This would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the free speech that's expressed every day on social media. This collect-it-all approach is ineffective to protect national security….” (1)

And Adam Schwartz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who notes:

  "The context of DHS's notice is troubling. DHS increasingly is subjecting immigrants to many kinds of high tech surveillance, including facial recognition and cell site simulators. Moreover, government increasingly is using social media monitoring against political dissidents such as Black Lives Matter." (2) 

The Florida Library Association stands with both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in opposing this development, which, as the Knight Institute has stated in its lawsuit filed again the DHS, that we need greater understanding of the government’s “authority to base immigration decisions on individuals’ speech, beliefs, or associations.” (3)

1. ACLU Comment on Homeland Security Notice on Immigrant's Social Media
Information (2017). Web. 26 September 2017:
https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-comment-homeland-security-notice-immigrants-social-media-information, accessed 30 September 2017.

2. Schwartz, Adam (2017). Stop DHS Social Media Monitoring of
Immigrants. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Web. 28 September 2017:
accessed 30 September 2017.

3. Sumagaysay, Levi (2017). Trump administration sued for info on plan to collect immigrants’ social media data, ‘extreme vetting’. siliconbeat. Web. 4 October 2017: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2017/10/04/trump-administration-sued-for-info-on-plan-to-collect-immigrants-social-media-data-extreme-vetting/, accessed 14 October 2017.

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