The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been seeking the technology sector’s help to carry out President Trump’s proposed “extreme vetting” of visa holders by combing their social media information, a proposal that’s been percolating since January. As ProPublic reports, the only change in this plan from the most recent ICE presentation is the program’s name.
“Visa lifecycle vetting” may be significantly less politically loaded, as described before a tech industry conference in Arlington, Virginia yesterday, but its core aims are identical, and worrying. Among the companies in attendance were Accenture, Motorolo Solutions, Deloitte, and Microsoft. Though Microsoft publicly opposed changes to DACA that could effect its own workforce, CEO Satya Nadella remained on Trump’s tech council amid mass defections until Trump himself dissolved it.
Quotes from deputy assistant director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ National Security Program Louis Rodi call for “risk-based matrices” and “batch-vetting capabilities” are maddeningly vague tech-speak that belie a program over 100 experts and civil liberties groups have spoken out against for its potential to be used in a discriminatory manner. Those familiar with ICE’s tactics have every reason to be concerned.
According to the presentation, ICE has already begun meeting with companies about building out the program, which again, is now called “Visa lifecycle vetting” in case you hear the term bandied about and mistake it for anything less sinister than “extreme vetting.”