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Homeland Security monitors journalists


Douglas Caddy
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Homeland Security monitors journalists

http://rt.com/usa/news/homeland-security-journalists-monitoring-321/print/

Published: 7 January, 2012, 01:56

Edited: 7 January, 2012, 01:56

Freedom of speech might allow journalists to get away with a lot in America, but the Department of Homeland Security is on the ready to make sure that the government is keeping dibs on who is saying what.

Under the National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative that came out of DHS headquarters in November, Washington has the written permission to retain data on users of social media and online networking platforms.

Specifically, the DHS announced the NCO and its Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s own definition of personal identifiable information, or PII, such data could consist of any intellect “that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that individual.” Previously established guidelines within the administration say that data could only be collected under authorization set forth by written code, but the new provisions in the NOC’s write-up means that any reporter, whether someone along the lines of Walter Cronkite or a budding blogger, can be victimized by the agency.

Also included in the roster of those subjected to the spying are government officials, domestic or not, who make public statements, private sector employees that do the same and “persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest,” which to itself opens up the possibilities even wider.

The department says that they will only scour publically-made info available while retaining data, but it doesn’t help but raise suspicion as to why the government is going out of their way to spend time, money and resources on watching over those that helped bring news to the masses.

The development out of the DHS comes at the same time that U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady denied pleas from supporters of WikiLeaks who had tried to prevent account information pertaining to their Twitter accounts from being provided to federal prosecutors. Jacob Applebaum and others advocates of Julian Assange’s whistleblower site were fighting to keep the government from subpoenaing information on their personal accounts that were collected from Twitter.

Last month the Boston Police Department and the Suffolk Massachusetts District Attorney subpoenaed Twitter over details pertaining to recent tweets involving the Occupy Boston protests.

The website Fast Company reports that the intel collected by the Department of Homeland Security under the NOC Monitoring Initiative has been happening since as early as 2010 and the data is being shared with both private sector businesses and international third parties.

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Does this mean that we must watch our P & Q's on what we say here?

What if some Gov Agency does not like what someone says are they come to that persons house. Then say we say what you posted on the Eduction Forum is not to our liking and we want you to stop or else!!

Here is what i would say i would tell the agency to SHOVE IT!!!!!!!

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Well, I would not post anything on the internet that I would not want made public... but should people be able to 'use' that against you?

I've heard about people being sacked because of what they have said on Twitter or Facebook. I'm not sure if that if fair; how much does your opinion link with your work? Just because you think the current government is crap does not give them the right to sack you as a public servant.

But what if you were some type of social worker who dealt primarily with minorities, and you said - on more than occasion - that you thought they were subhuman or second class citizens who don't deserve the time of day? Is it fair to use those comments to sack someone from that role, as being an inappropriate person to hold that role?

I'm undecided WRT to opening post.

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Look to the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy if you said something that was not in line with what the Goverment thougt. To them you were a commie and against the government i think we as a people do not want to go back to that way of thinking again.

Say something that someone in government does not like you will be put on a watch list for speaking whats on your mind do we as a people what that?

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"But what if you were some type of social worker who dealt primarily with minorities, and you said - on more than occasion - that you thought they were subhuman or second class citizens who don't deserve the time of day? Is it fair to use those comments to sack someone from that role, as being an inappropriate person to hold that role?"

What do you think, Evan?

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Look to the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy if you said something that was not in line with what the Goverment thougt. To them you were a commie and against the government i think we as a people do not want to go back to that way of thinking again.

Say something that someone in government does not like you will be put on a watch list for speaking whats on your mind do we as a people what that?

Too true, this (if true) is the kind of crap that was supposed to end with Obama, who despite he claim he represented change in many ways is a continuation of Bush Jr. I voted for him in '08 but just might abstain this November.

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Has this been reported by anyone other than RT? They normally are reliable but some times aren't.

Google has a number of items on this. I typed into Google's box "National Operations Center (NOC)'s Media Monitoring Initiative."

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=htsf&oq=&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&q=National+Operations+Center+%28NOC%29%e2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative#q=National+Operations+Center+(NOC)%E2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&prmd=imvns&ei=QMcNT6SFCqS62wXniOTOBw&start=0&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=fbb7e7053b0ad6ea&biw=1336&bih=554

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Has this been reported by anyone other than RT? They normally are reliable but some times aren't.

Google has a number of items on this. I typed into Google's box "National Operations Center (NOC)'s Media Monitoring Initiative."

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=htsf&oq=&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&q=National+Operations+Center+%28NOC%29%e2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative#q=National+Operations+Center+(NOC)%E2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&prmd=imvns&ei=QMcNT6SFCqS62wXniOTOBw&start=0&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=fbb7e7053b0ad6ea&biw=1336&bih=554

I meant some sort of reliable source, all I saw on Google was blogs, forums and obscure newssites most of which quoted the RT article.

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Has this been reported by anyone other than RT? They normally are reliable but some times aren't.

Google has a number of items on this. I typed into Google's box "National Operations Center (NOC)'s Media Monitoring Initiative."

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=htsf&oq=&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&q=National+Operations+Center+%28NOC%29%e2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative#q=National+Operations+Center+(NOC)%E2%80%99s+Media+Monitoring+Initiative&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS409US409&prmd=imvns&ei=QMcNT6SFCqS62wXniOTOBw&start=0&sa=N&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=fbb7e7053b0ad6ea&biw=1336&bih=554

I meant some sort of reliable source, all I saw on Google was blogs, forums and obscure newssites most of which quoted the RT article.

News article from Reuters:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/homeland-security-watches-twitter-social-media-183721483.html

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Federal Contractor Monitored Social Network Sites

The New York Times

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

January 13, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security paid a contractor in 2009 to monitor social networking sites — like Facebook, blogs and reader comments on a news article — to see how the residents of Standish, Mich., were reacting to a proposal to move detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to a local prison there, according to newly disclosed documents.

While it has long been known that the department monitors the Internet for information about emerging threats to public safety like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, the documents show that its Social Networking/Media Capability program, at least in an early stage, was also focused on “public reaction to major governmental proposals with homeland security implications.”

A department official said Friday that the social network monitoring program did not produce reports about public opinion, but instead focused exclusively on monitoring crises like hazardous material spills, shooting incidents and natural disasters.

Still, the newly disclosed documents show that in August 2009, during an early test of the program, a contractor compiled reactions among residents of Standish, Mich., to the short-lived detainee proposal. It found that most people “were opposed to the plan,” arguing it could make the community a terrorist target, but that others characterized these concerns as “hysteria.”

To produce the report about Standish, the contractor used “Facebook, Twitter, three different blogs and reader comments” on an article on The Washington Post’s Web site, highlighting “public sentiments in extensive detail,” according to a summary of the report that was included as an example in a “Social Networking/Media Capability Analyst Handbook” dated February 2010.

Asked about the Standish report on Friday, department officials provided a series of explanations. After initially accepting it as something produced by the program, an official later said the report was instead created by a contractor as a sample during a period when the social networking component of its media monitoring program was still being designed. It started on a small scale in January 2010 and expanded the following June.

Chris Ortman, a department spokesman, acknowledged that the report was included in the February 2010 handbook, but he said it was there “only as an example of a weekly report format.” No such report on public sentiment was ever distributed as a working document of the department’s National Operations Center, which runs the monitoring program, he said.

He added that the handbook had since been revised and no longer included that example because it “does not meet our operational requirements or privacy standards,” which “expressly prohibit reporting on individuals’ First Amendment activities.”

The report about Standish residents was part of nearly 300 pages of documents about the monitoring program obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Ginger McCall, director of the group’s Open Government Program, said it was appropriate for the department to use the Internet to search for emerging threats to public safety. But, she said, monitoring what people are saying about government policies went too far and could chill free speech.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of political dissent has no legal basis and is contrary to core First Amendment principles,” she said.

She also pointed out that while other sample reports in the February 2010 handbook discuss content that is inappropriate and should be removed, the Standish one does not. “This Standish report is being held up, as is, as an example that should be emulated,” she said.

While the names of blog and mainstream news sources are logged in the sample reports, the documents show that such reports — whatever their topic — are not to include personally identifying information; for example, a quotation taken from Twitter would say it came from “a Twitter user” rather than citing a specific Twitter account.

In an interview on Friday, John Cohen, the department’s principal deputy counterterrorism coordinator, said the broader media-monitoring program dated to 2006 and had evolved over time. He said that it had extensive privacy protections and that policy makers had decided that they did not want reports like Standish because they were not helpful.

“Today this capability is focused solely on rapidly identifying and obtaining information regarding events that are ongoing, and providing information that can help inform an effective response to that event,” he said, describing the reports as covering only topics like “major traffic accidents, haz-mat spills, reports regarding suspicious packages, shootings, etc.”

This week, Reuters reported on a department privacy review related to the monitoring efforts that described the news media channels the program covers. The Reuters report received significant attention after The Drudge Report, a popular news aggregation Web site, highlighted that Drudge was on the list.

Many of the newly disclosed documents relate to the department’s efforts to outsource some of its “media monitoring and social media/networking support services.” In early 2010, for example, companies seeking the contract had to spend 24 hours monitoring news media coverage.

They were asked to produce short reports about threats and hazards, as well as “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) ability to prevent, protect and respond, to recovery efforts or activities related to any crisis or events which impact National Planning Scenarios.”

The documents indicate that in May 2010 a procurement official awarded an $11.3 million contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

One passage in the documents raised another question. It says the program should also compile reports about the department and other federal agencies, including “both positive and negative reports on FEMA, C.I.A., C.B.P., ICE, etc., as well as organizations outside of D.H.S.”

While most of the acronyms stand for agencies dealing with emergencies, border security and the like, “C.I.A.” usually refers to the Central Intelligence Agency. However, Mr. Ortman said it was a typo — intended as “C.I.S.,” the department’s Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau.

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