MEDIA ROOTS — The Electronic Privacy Information Center has obtained documents through an FOIA request detailing how the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) domestic spying program focuses primarily on media reports that are “critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly.”
This may be an unsurprising revelation, but these documents further expose the increasingly oppressive nature of the state and DHS to stifle free speech and target dissent under the umbrella of “‘national security.”
WASHINGTON POST — Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns that the Department of Homeland Security’s three-year-old practice of monitoring social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could extend to tracking public reaction to news events and reports that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government.
The activists, who obtained DHS documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, say one document in particular, a February 2010 analyst handbook, touts as a good example of “capturing public reaction” the monitoring of Facebook and other sites for public sentiment about the possible transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a Michigan prison.
With the explosion of digital media, DHS has joined other intelligence and law enforcement agencies in monitoring blogs and social media, which is seen as a valuable tool in anticipating trends and threats that affect homeland security, such as flu pandemics or a bomb plot.
But monitoring for “positive and negative reports” on U.S. agencies falls outside the department’s mission to “secure the nation,” said the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained a copy of a contract and related material describing DHS’s social media monitoring through its FOIA suit.
Read more about DHS monitoring of social media concerns civil liberties advocates.
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