If you have ever participated in any protest in the USA, the chances are very high that you are the US government’s tracking list.
Cybersecurity counsel Jennifer Granick recorded her speech on TEDx Standford in 2017.
She says that the American government can:
- Record your phone calls (iPhone, Google pixel, Samsung smartphone included),
- Read your emails and
- Monitor your location
- FBI uses Facial recognition technology
- Protests – good or bad – Photos uploaded on social media – Protest likes and comments
- Record you license plates from parking lots of Gun show events
- Police track your car license plates automatically using scanners while you drive on the road
US government was tracking at that time and has probably increased it more than ever which is evident by the rule of making social media information mandatory on US visa application form DS-160.
The government collects all kinds of information about you easily, cheaply and without a warrant — and if you’ve ever participated in a protest or attended a gun show, you’re likely a person of interest.
she advises learning more about your rights, your risks, and how to protect yourself in the golden age of surveillance.
DHS tracks Social Media Accounts
Do you know that DHS tracks everything on social media like Facebook, Twitter and other such platforms?
DHS creates fake accounts to get into private groups and track activities that may pose national security issues.
John Oliver also presented how police tracked ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies using face identification technologies.
In the video, Google senior scientist confirmed that Baltimore police used facial recognition to link protesters to find their social media profiles and then target them for arrest.
John Oliver said that this is against people’s “right to assemble”:
They can track you even if you have not done anything suspicious but the chances are lower.
In the current time, where there are protests done everywhere including Black lives matter and such, you should be careful and know what are the possibilities if you decide to register your protest by going on streets or voicing opinions on Twitter or Facebook.
How to Avoid Tracking?
Jennifer Granick recommends using encryption as much as possible.
WhatsApp is one example that uses encryption for messages, voice, and video calls.
Do you know of other ways to protect your private information, do share with us on forum.
The chances are high that you will be put on the tracking list of people who DHS continuously tracks.
You may not see any issue or never know that you were tracked if you have not done anything wrong.
But, some people with names matching with known persons who pose national security threats may be issued form 221g or DS 5535 on their next US visa stamping interview.
People who are on a visa in the USA like H1B, L1, B1/B2, F1, and others should think twice before jumping out to protest.
USCIS runs a thorough background security check at the time of approving your Green card.
They do need clearance from DHS and FBI before your i485 can be approved.
The same is done by the US embassy before stamping your immigrant visa.
If they find out any past record on your name that points towards a threat against the US government, they will deny your green card application.
You can participate in protests as US law gives you the right to protest peacefully.
There are courts who will protect your rights and the US government or USCIS does not retaliate against you just for participating in a protest.
Make sure that you follow the law and abide by police instructions and take proper city permissions before setting up any protests or joining one.
You should use your best judgment before taking any step as situations vary and no one advice can fit everywhere.
You cannot request stopping tracking since you do not know if you are even being tracked.
Even if you are being tracked, nobody will know that your simple activities like doing a google search is also tracked.
As far as we know, there is no way to completely delete your social media history online.
Even if you delete the past messages on Facebook, Twitter or emails, US government can summon these companies to get deleted data but they will have to go through the legal court warrant.
As long as you have not done anything unlawful, you should not worry about this tracking. Its part of life in this century as the CCTV cameras are tracking you on roads anyway everywhere.
WhatsApp chats and groups are private and the communication is encrypted from your phone to other person’s phone.
The encrypted messages cannot be read by anyone including the government.
But, this does not mean that government cannot see it. There are ways to decrypt messages if government wants it.
Many people believe that only Muslims are tracked. This is not true.
US government tracks people of any religious belief including muslims, hindu, christian, Jews and pretty much anyone who they think could be a potential threat in future.
There is no official list.
Have more questions? Ask on forum and we will try to answer.