Trump administration plans expanded use of personal data

Trump administration plans expanded use of personal data

Trump administration plans expanded use of personal data

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced plans Tuesday to expand the collection of personal “biometric” information by the agency in charge of immigration enforcement, raising concerns about civil liberties and data protection.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said it would soon issue a formal proposal for a new regulation for expanding “the authorities and methods” for collecting biometrics, which are physical characteristics such as fingerprints used to identify individuals.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of DHS, already collects biometric data, including iris scans, from people captured trying to enter the country without legal authority.

DHS said in a written statement that the new rule would authorize new techniques, including voice and facial recognition to verify people’s identity.

The agency did not release the proposed regulation or provide details. BuzzFeed News, which obtained a draft of the policy, reported earlier Tuesday that it included a provision for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is also a component of DHS, to collect biometric data from non-citizens legally working and living in the U.S. or seeking to do so.

It would also require U.S. citizens sponsoring relatives to come to the country to provide biometric data, including in some cases their DNA, if it was needed to verify someone’s identity.

“This is a remarkable expansion of surveillance, especially the idea that immigrants could be called in at any point to give these biometrics,” said Sarah Pierce, an analyst with the Migration Policy Institute.

It typically takes several months for a new regulation to take effect after a public comment period. This measure is likely to prompt legal challenges, as have most immigration measures introduced under President Donald Trump.

Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli characterized the new regulation in a written statement as a way to improve the verification of people’s identities and modernize operations.

“Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing,” Cuccinelli said. “The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”

DHS is charged with enforcing the strict immigration enforcement policies that have been a hallmark of the Trump administration. But the agency is also in charge Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is responsible for enabling people to legally live and work in the United States.

A lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights watchdog, said there’s no justification for expanding biometric data collection, and no clear rules for how long the information can be retained, how it can be used, and whether it can be shared with foreign governments or other agencies.

“There doesn’t really seem to be any indication that this will help with combating fraud or anything like that,” said EFF staff attorney Saira Hussain. “Rather, it’s about making it so the government can engage in dragnet surveillance of immigrant communities by being able to access some of their most unique and sensitive biometric information.”

There are also concerns about protecting the data. CBP said last year that photos of travellers and their license plates at a border crossing were compromised in a cyber attack on a government contractor.

“The more data you collect and the more sensitive it is the more that opens up the government to potential data breaches,” Hussain said.

Andrea Flores, deputy director of policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new policy would be an invasion of privacy rights and is a part of a broader administration effort to curtail all immigration.

“They really are trying to shut down legal immigration by creating new barriers, in this case asking people to turn over their most personal information and discouraging people from coming forward and using our legal immigration pathways.” said Flores, a policy analyst at DHS in the Obama administration. “It’s saying that immigrants are suspect and not welcome here, and if you’re related to an immigrant we’re also concerned about your presence.”


Associated Press writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Ben Fox, The Associated Press

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blank Unemployment Benefits form
Red Deer unemployment rate rises to 10.6 per cent

Red Deer’s unemployment rate rose slightly during the month of April. The… Continue reading

Starting Monday, golf courses across the province will be limited to their household or for those who live alone, their two close contacts. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Golf in Alberta limited to household or close contacts starting Monday

Golf courses will have new COVID-19 protocols to follow next week. Starting… Continue reading

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
MLA Ron Orr pleads with Central Albertans to follow COVID-19 rules

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr is changing his tune on COVID-19. Orr originally… Continue reading

People line up at a COVID-19 vaccination centre, Friday, April 23, 2021 in Deux-Montagnes, Que. Canada's two biggest provinces are continuing to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations as they report lower hospitalization figures.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
COVID-19 rapid tests going to more businesses, Alberta truckers get shots in Montana

Ottawa has introduced new ways for small and medium businesses to get… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
UPDATED: AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Justice minister promises to get tough with those ignoring public health orders

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. A broad coalition of MPs from all five parties wants the federal government to support waiving the global rules that guard vaccine trade secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau stopped well short Friday of endorsing efforts to… Continue reading

Workers perform ground preparations outside City Hall in Yellowknife on Monday, July 4, 2011. A recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Yellowknife is mostly affecting children and youth, the territory’s chief public health officer says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most of Yellowknife’s COVID-19 cases are in children and youth: public health officer

YELLOWKNIFE — A health official in the Northwest Territories says a recent… Continue reading

Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
A year after jobs data leak, StatCan resumes sharing advance numbers with officials

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada has resumed its practice of giving key federal… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Job search: 10 ways to make your LinkedIn profile stand out in 2021

In 2021 successful job hunting requires having a LinkedIn profile that’s current… Continue reading

Max Parrot of Canada competes in the men’s snowboard big air final at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Parrot has won the Comeback of the Year honour at the Laureus World Sports Awards. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot wins Laureus World Sports Award for comeback

Parrot beat out former Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith

This Nov. 22, 2015 file photo shows Justin Bieber at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. Bieber’s world tour is facing another setback as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The Stratford, Ont.-raised pop singer is pushing dozens of tour dates including stops in three Canadian cities.	THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File
Justin Bieber postpones Canadian summer tour dates until 2022

52-date world tour will now kick off Feb. 18, 2022

Most Read