Norway to use social media to reveal asylum seeker frauds

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-14 00:45:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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OSLO, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has undergone training in checking foreigners on social media websites and will use this knowledge to detect if asylum seekers are cheating, newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday.

Norwegian immigration and police authorities use Facebook in order to reveal holes in asylum seekers' stories and check their identities, and in these cases social media play a key role, the report said.

UDI's executive officers have got their own guidelines for using social media and will use them in their work, the report said.

Hanne Merete Jendal, director of UDI's asylum department, told Aftenposten they investigated information available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but assured "we stay within that which is the legitimate use of such sources."

"Information that we find in open sources can therefore also give us an indication of other investigations we should take. These may include investigations related to family relationships, birthplace, residence, nationality and education," she said.

According to Jendal, these findings can also reveal whether asylum seekers have been honest about their stay in Norway and whether they have been travelling back to the countries they fled.

After the sudden immigration stop at the end of 2015, UDI has worked on checking the old cases, after which several foreigners lost their Norwegian citizenship and residence permit.

Social media have been an important source in these situations, UDI added.

"We have examples when people have stated to be from Somalia, but where searches in social media give grounds for believing they are from Djibouti or Ethiopia," Jendal said.

False identity and background has also been discovered among stateless Palestinians who actually come from Jordan, as well as among Syrians who, before the civil war in Syria, sought asylum as Iraqis.

However, Jensen emphasized that in all cases, foreigners have an opportunity to comment and give alternative explanations of UDI's social media findings before it makes a decision on revocation.

"The finding can be an indication that leads to further investigations, and these findings must always be weighted against other moments and other information," she added.

"During the asylum wave in 2015, we really saw the value in electronic communication. In the past, we did not really trust those kind of tracks. However, during the chaos in 2015 ,it became clear to us that we had to make efforts to immediately find out more about asylum seekers," Jan Olav Frantsvold, head of the legal department at the Norwegian Police Immigration Services (PU), told Aftenposten.

Frantsvold added, however, that this was still a little explored field for the PU, although there were clear limits to what information police could collect and store.

"The police must have a basis for using such methods. We are not to devour people's personal data," he said.