DHS Stonewalls Congress On Social Media Spying

About a week ago I started working on a post (which has yet to be published) regarding the monitoring of social networks by federal agencies. I may need to finish that up in light of this new news.

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security speaking today at a Congressional hearing regarding the federal agency’s monitoring of social media networks and news websites, including the Drudge Report, were evasive about who ordered them to look for reports or comments that “reflect adversely on the U.S. government and the DHS.

The hearing was prompted as a result of the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtaining 300 documents through a Freedom of Information Act request which detailed how DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security.”

The list of websites the DHS requested be monitored for such content included the Drudge Report, Facebook, Twitter, Huffington Post, and GoogleBlogSearch, a service that allows millions of individual blogs to be searched for keywords.

EPIC submitted a statement to today’s Subcommittee Hearing in which the privacy group demanded the Committee suspend the DHS program, arguing that “The DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations is entirely without legal basis and threatens important free speech and expression rights.”

In his opening comments before the Subcommittee Hearing, titled DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Patrick Meehan spoke of his concerns that “Collecting, analyzing, disseminating private citizens’ comments could have a chilling effect on individuals’ privacy rights and people’s freedom of speech and dissent against their government.”

Representative Jackie Speier said she was “deeply troubled” by the program, stating DHS “is not a political operation….It should not be a political operation.”

However, despite Meehan repeatedly pressing both DHS representatives Mary Callahan and Richard Chávez on the issue, they evaded answering questions about who signed off on the contract to have a private company compile reports about online dissent against the DHS and the government, attempting to limit the conversation to DHS’ monitoring of keywords related to natural disasters in a bid to avoid the controversy altogether.

Asked what the DHS was doing to ensure that its social media monitoring program would not create a chilling environment whereby Americans would be reluctant to leave comments in online forums critical of government, Callahan repeated the talking point that the DHS was merely concerned with the “what not the who” of the process.

“Who directing what’s being monitored,” asked Meehan, to which Callahan responded by handing over to Chávez, who bumbled through a formulaic response that did not answer the question.

The hearing was prompted as a result of the Electronic Privacy Information Center obtaining 300 documents through a Freedom of Information Act request which detailed how DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security.”

The list of websites the DHS requested be monitored for such content included the Drudge Report, Facebook, Twitter, Huffington Post, and GoogleBlogSearch, a service that allows millions of individual blogs to be searched for keywords.

EPIC submitted a statement to today’s Subcommittee Hearing in which the privacy group demanded the Committee suspend the DHS program, arguing that “The DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations is entirely without legal basis and threatens important free speech and expression rights.”

In his opening comments before the Subcommittee Hearing, titled DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Patrick Meehan spoke of his concerns that “Collecting, analyzing, disseminating private citizens’ comments could have a chilling effect on individuals’ privacy rights and people’s freedom of speech and dissent against their government.”

Representative Jackie Speier said she was “deeply troubled” by the program, stating DHS “is not a political operation….It should not be a political operation.”

However, despite Meehan repeatedly pressing both DHS representatives Mary Callahan and Richard Chávez on the issue, they evaded answering questions about who signed off on the contract to have a private company compile reports about online dissent against the DHS and the government, attempting to limit the conversation to DHS’ monitoring of keywords related to natural disasters in a bid to avoid the controversy altogether.

Asked what the DHS was doing to ensure that its social media monitoring program would not create a chilling environment whereby Americans would be reluctant to leave comments in online forums critical of government, Callahan repeated the talking point that the DHS was merely concerned with the “what not the who” of the process.

“Who directing what’s being monitored,” asked Meehan, to which Callahan responded by handing over to Chávez, who bumbled through a formulaic response that did not answer the question.

You ARE being watched!Keep in mind folks that the internet is a powerful tool. It never forgets and even IF you decide to get away from things like Twitter and Facebook, Big Brother is also monitoring EMAIL as well!

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