Homeland Security Snooping on Facebook, Twitter, maybe this Blog

By Richard Porter-Roth posted 02-16-2012 20:19


Fast Company had an interesting report today about the Department of Homeland Security social media monitoring project. Link can be found below.

While details are sketchy, and it is not clear what they are looking for, it is chilling to think that DHS is snooping, monitoring, and collecting data from our social media outlets. Even worse, if anything can be, the FBI is putting out a contact (RFP) for the same services so that they too can begin collecting a steady stream of info from us.

From the article, DHS "...appeared to be deliberately stonewalling Congress on the depth, ubiquity, goals, and technical capabilities of the agency's social media surveillance. At other times, they appeared to be themselves unsure about their own project's ultimate goals and uses." (italics mine)

Now I am normally of the opinion that if you are not doing anything wrong, you should not be concerned - but I think this is a slippery slope and sets a powerful precedent for even more invasive "monitoring" of our private life. The DHS actually outsources this monitoring to a third-party non-governmental company - General Dynamics. I assume the FBI will also be outsourcing its surveillance to perhaps a different company.

Also, if the DHS security can do this, I'm quite certain that other countries, like China, can do the same - it may take a little more work but it may be entirely possible. Think of other countries monitoring our social media, establishing lists of people who work for targeted companies and data mining travel information, trends, keywords used repeatedly, and the inevitable "slip" that normally would have gone unnoticed but within the proper framework, the "slip" becomes meaningful.

For a company, I would think this is a wake up call to be careful about what is said in its social media avenues and to warn employees to be equally careful about posting their travel plans, creating blogs and responding to blogs as all of this can be gathered and put through a data analysis program to establish a profile of your company.

As an aside, I also read an article this week about people who travel to countries like China and Russia, They don't take a laptop and if it is necessary, they take a special one that has been cleaned by IT and contains no data. Traveling laptops can never be connected to the corporate network. Also, speical clean phones are provided to the travelers and they don't carry their own phones. One person said that if turns off his phone and removes the battery during meetings so it cannot be remotely turned on and if anyone "inspects" his phone for any reason, he destroys it.

It is hard to pinpoint why I am so upset about this.... except to say that once this door is opened it will be very hard to close and stop this type of intrusive monitoring.

or the full link is

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