Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in the US have dropped the contentious plans to monitor social media activity of visa applicants and holders. They will not assess their social media account to determine whether these would be contributing positively as members of society.
ICE has dropped the requirement for using any automated technologies for predictive decision making in its proposals for contractors who vie for government business. More than 100 NGOs and tech experts along with Human Rights Watch had challenged the proposal of ICE. It was planned by the ICE to use predictive analytics and surveillance for screening US visa applicants and holders.
ICE’s Initiative for Extreme Vetting was an effort to check the social media and other online data of all visa applicants and holders as well. The screening criterion was collected directly from the executive order of President Trump banning Muslims, as quoted by the HRW Org.
The executive order signed by Trump in January 2017 had several parameters. These included determinations of visa applicants as members of society making a positive contribution. It was also to be assessed whether they contributed to the national interest and if they had intentions to commit terrorist acts or crimes.
Critics of the proposal argued that it was impossible to measure and flag these concerns in a system that is automated. It would be both biased and ineffective, they contended. The proposed system would also pose risks of concealing discriminatory and politicized decisions behind the layer of scientific objectivity.
Visa applicants and holders could have an alarming effect on them owing to the awareness of being monitored. These may also censor themselves digitally to avoid being scrutinized officially, added the critics.
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