Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has decided to retain a secret policy of the United States that prevents immigration officials checking the social media posts of foreigners who have submitted applications for US visas, ABC News has reported.
The ABC claims that Johnson chose to maintain the policy out of fear of “bad public relations” and a backlash from civil liberties advocates. “During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” the Department of Homeland Security’s former acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, John Cohen, informed ABC News. His account was confirmed to the news organisation by both a former and a current senior counterterrorism official.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security told ABC that after Cohen left the organisation in fall 2014, three pilot programs were introduced to incorporate social media as part of the vetting process; however, the policy is still not widespread and is under review, according to officials. The current policy has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that Tashfeen Malik, the wife involved in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino in California, had declared allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook account prior to the attack.
On Sunday Senator Charles Schumer demanded that the United States should immediately start to review the social media sites of
immigrants who come to the country on visas.