Posts Tagged ‘National Operations’

DHS Releases List of Hundreds of Keywords/Phrases Used to Monitor Net for Threats

by Doug Powers on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

This is article 56 of 113 in the topic Free Speech

nullWe really have to get this George W. Bush guy out of office so we can put a stop to this kind of government intrusiveness and… what? Who is president? Well, in that case I’m sure this is okay:

The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The words are included in the department’s 2011 ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder’ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.

However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.

I just got myself flagged seven times just for running a snip of the story. It’s possible “pork” made the list because the government considers those who expose federal waste to be a clear and present danger to the security of the United States.

Read the entire list of words. It’s virtually impossible to write online without using several of them a day.

This kind of thing has been going on a long time. Remember Echelon? It’s a global surveillance network I first heard about back in the 1990′s that I think was invented as a way to allow Bill Clinton to eavesdrop on Elizabeth Hurley and Claudia Schiffer’s phone calls.

Strange. On the list of words that could constitute a threat to America, “Forward™” didn’t make the cut.

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Beware of Department of Homeland Security’s Social Networking Monitoring Manual

by Kevin A. Lehmann on Thursday, May 10th, 2012

This is article 55 of 113 in the topic Free Speech

 

The Feds have been forced to release their social network monitoring manual, which contains the list of words the government watches on social media and news sites.

Earlier the Huffington Post reported on the Feds have been forced to give up their list of words they monitor on Facebook, Twitter, and comments being posted on news articles so I compiled that list below.

Homeland Security Manual Lists Government Key Words For Monitoring Social Media, News

Ever complain on Facebook that you were feeling “sick?” Told your friends to “watch” a certain TV show? Left a comment on a media website about government “pork?”

If you did any of those things, or tweeted about your recent vacation in “Mexico” or a shopping trip to “Target,” the Department of Homeland Security may have noticed.

In the latest revelation of how the federal government is monitoring social media and online news outlets, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted online a 2011 Department of Homeland Security manual that includes hundreds of key words (such as those above) and search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats. The center, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.

The 39-page “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” used by the department’s National Operations Center includes no-brainer words like “”attack,” “epidemic” and “Al Qaeda” (with various spellings). But the list also includes words that can be interpreted as either menacing or innocent depending on the context, such as “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative,” “relief” and “organization.”

These terms and others are “broad, vague and ambiguous” and include “vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters,” stated the Electronic Privacy Information Center in letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

The manual was released by the center a week after Homeland Security officials were grilled at a House hearing over other documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that revealed analysts were scrutinizing online comments that “reflect adversely” on the federal government. Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and Richard Chavez, director for the National Operations Center, testified that the released documents were outdated and that social media was monitored strictly to provide situational awareness and not to police disparaging opinions about the federal government. On Friday, Homeland Security officials stuck by that testimony.

A senior Homeland Security official who spoke to The Huffington Post on Friday on condition of anonymity said the testimony of agency officials last week remains “accurate” and the manual “is a starting point, not the endgame” in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats. The official denied Electronic Privacy Information Center’s charge that the government is monitoring dissent.

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Did You Know Homeland Security is Monitoring the Internet?

by Alan Caruba on Friday, January 13th, 2012

This is article 21 of 45 in the topic Cyber space

One of the lessons one learns in military basic training is “situational awareness”, a term that reflects the importance of watchfulness in combat. It can mean the difference between life and death. Police practice this as well, looking for people who seem out of place in a neighborhood.

The average citizen blithely ignores this when shopping or just going about their life, though many purchase private monitoring services to protect their homes against fire or theft or put up video surveillance systems to protect their businesses. I doubt there is any public place that does not have television cameras watching.

When it comes to protecting the nation, situational awareness is an essential element to spot a potential individual or group that might pose a danger. There is, of course, the potential for misuse or abuse, but that applies to everything government does.

The upside of such monitoring is contained in a short item from the Heritage Foundation’s January 12 Morning Line dispatch. “His plan was to rip apart nightclubs with explosives, unleash a wave of destruction on bridges, and open fire on police officers—all in sunny Florida. This was the murderous intent of Sami Osmakac, 25, an American citizen from the former Yugoslavia who was determined to spill blood, foment destruction, and bring terror to the United States all in the name of Allah. Fortunately, undercover FBI agents thwarted his efforts, making this the 44th foiled terrorist plot against America.”

I am a regular contributor to Harold Wylie’s excellent website, BorderfireReport.net. On a daily basis he gathers news about the effects of illegal immigration and related topics. He recently wrote to say that “my website has been placed on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Operations Center Media Monitoring Initiative.” He learned about this during a visit to World Net Daily.com.

Is this a good or bad thing? Candidly, I thought it was a good thing because it suggests that someone at DHS recognized what an excellent “open source” of information Wylie’s site provides.

A government agency that’s “snooping” on Americans is not likely to issue such a notice and the sites listed represent, in government-speak, the opportunity “to collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”

When one considers the billions the government spends on covert intelligence gathering, this is a far cry from “Big Brother.” Simply stated, DHS thinks that Wylie’s his site is performing a valuable service for their own Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement operation.

The cliché is that “being paranoid does not mean someone is not watching you.” There are so many sources of information available to individuals and groups regarding everything about your life that it bodes well to conduct oneself in conformance with common sense and the law. Meanwhile, your credit rating and other data are easily accessible.

Like millions of others I am on Facebook and DHS monitors both it and Spacebook. The occasional nutcase uses these social networks to announce to the world that he or she has bad intentions.

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