The Federal laws have been situational solutions most of the time and this time around, after a massacre at a holiday party in California, it was no different. After the attack, it was reported that the couple involved were showing signs of commitment to Jihad through the private messages. This gave rise to the questions whether they had been showing their patronage to radical groups even before being granted the US Visa.
Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson however said that the social media surveillance was capped by a “certain legal limits”. The feds will now be vetting the social media accounts before issuing the visas, it is still unclear on what multitudes the surveillance will take place and the signals that will flag down the applicant. Applying for a American Visa in general is not a lazed out exercise. In fact it follows a set of stringent measures to segregate the Visa applicants. Even the ineligibility is classified into two classes, first the temporary ineligibility and the next permanent ineligibility. The temporary ineligibility means that the applicants have to clear up some things on their end and reapply while the permanent ineligibility means that every time you apply for a visa it would be rejected.
President Obama was quoted in a year-end press conference, “Our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring public posts, and that’s part of the visa review process.” The Government however claims that it doesn’t have access to the private email, chat, and text platforms which are being widely used.
He further added that this is the reason that the intelligence community should be partnering with the tech fraternity to access data that can help the Government to close in on a suspected terrorist. This is very debate that sparked off after Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the CIA, leaked information regarding the US spy programs to the Media. The Spy Program reportedly had links with the British Spy agency GCHQ and also other companies who helped the agency collect phone records and private conversations of Millions of Americans.
The scam further snowballed after the top EU politicians including German Chancellor Angela Markell were intercepted. For this very reason, China went all the way and banned purchase of Apple Products for the Government uses thus prompting tech giants like Facebook and Apple to fight off the authorities by still maintaining the necessary encryption levels on the devices. While we think it is essentially for the authorities to prematurely figure out the terror suspects and weed them out, having access to the private communications of all the citizens is a bit of overstretch. The surveillance program should take a paradigm shift and this should call for fresh measures which don’t disturb the privacy of the citizens.