Homeland Security Finds Human Vetting More Effective than Computers
The words “extreme vetting” are part of our everyday vocabulary now that President Donald Trump has introduced not one, but two, executive orders on immigration from six particular countries. As explained by the President and his team, extreme vetting will hope to include the scanning of potential United States visitors’ social media accounts.
A study by the Department of Homeland Security this week revealed that in December 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ran a pilot scheme monitoring the social media accounts of visitors both manually and automatically.
The computer programs sued were not named in the report, but the tests were repeated in April and August of 2016 using different software.
“In reviewing the pilot, USCIS concluded that the tool was not a viable option for automated social media screening and that manual review was more effective at identifying accounts,” the report states.
The report based its findings on “low match confidence” because the resulting accounts identified by the software did not always match up with the applicant’s profiles.
The conclusion that old-fashioned methods work best could prove difficult for the DHS, as an army of workers would be required to monitor accounts of the millions of foreign nationals that visit the states each year. The department said that at this moment, neither the government nor the private sector “possessed the capabilities for large-scale social media screening.”
Social media screening began as voluntary submission under former-President Barack Obama, but President Trump wants to press ahead with screening all parts of a person’s identity in accordance with “extreme vetting.”
John Kelley, Secretary of Homeland Security, said that social media screening should be mandatory and that visitors should expect to have to provide passwords to their accounts.
The ACLU has since sent Kelly an open letter condemning plans to demand social media passwords. They point out that if the United States goes forth with such plans, other countries will feel pressure to follow suit, therefor putting American data at risk.