According to a bombshell report from ProPublica, the Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has inquired if tech companies could use algorithms to track the Facebook activity of visa holders in the United States.
The government posed this question to a room full of technology contractors brought together by the Government Technology & Services Coalition. Louis Rodi, a deputy assistant director at ICE, told the tech experts that the government is looking for a tool with “risk-based matrices” to scan the Facebook pages of foreign workers and assess what kind of threat they pose — if any.
“This administration is big on immigration enforcement, so we’re not going to look the other way like we have in the past when we have overstays,” Rodi said, according to the report. “Maybe it’s an administrative violation — it’s still a crime. These people need to pay. They can’t get away with it.”
While some form of monitoring is to be expected, privacy advocates are already expressing alarm over ICE’s plan. They say that the proposed tool is so broad it could result in innocent people getting caught up in its net. Of course, this technology is just an idea for now — though it’s clear the government is serious about pursuing it.