The Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security is monitoring numerous media outlets —and new guidelines open the possibility that the DHS will spy on private citizens’FaceBook,Twitter,or MySpace pages and retain personal information in its database for up to five years.
The “Social Networking/Media Capability”program is conducted by the DHS’s National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative and the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS). Media accounts trace its emergence to the summer of 2010. The media have revealed this program monitors five pages of websites. In addition to the social media sites listed above,Big Sis is monitoring the Drudge Report,The Huffington Post,ABC’s “The Blotter,”New York Times The Lede,YouTube,Hulu,and Flickr —and many,many others.
The program purports to collect massive quantities of data from a variety of webpages to help it respond to emergencies,such as natural disasters.
Reuters reports the DHS program also monitors “blogs related to news and activity along U.S. borders (DHS runs border and immigration agencies).”
Agents are also authorized to find and maintain the personal identifiable information (PII) on a “discrete category of individuals,”according to its report. However,its criteria are so broad as to allow virtually anyone to be targeted.
Although its guidelines restrict obtaining PII to individuals such as government agents or reporters,they also allow data collection on all those “known or identified as reporters in their post or article and who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”