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The Department of Homeland Security Searches Your Facebook and Twitter for "Marijuana," Other Keywords

 
 
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Recently released documents reveal that the Department of Homeland Security is keeping tabs on us via our social networks.

According to an internal DHS document released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the department and/or a DHS subcontractor is searching social networks like Facebook and Twitter for all kinds of keywords, which are then made into reports about "items of interest" (IOI). The list of terms is HUGE, and according to the blog Animal New York, "the DHS can also add additional search terms circumstantially as deemed necessary." Here are some of the keywords; you can view the full list at Animal New York.

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Secret Service (USSS)
  • Assassination
  • Attack
  • Domestic security
  • Drill
  • Exercise
  • Cops
  • Law enforcement
  • Hazmat
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical Spill
  • Airport
  • AMTRAK
  • Violence
  • Gang
  • Drug
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana 

According to the blog post, the DHS does attempt to strip personally identifiable information (that gets its own acronym too, PII) -- unless you fall into one of the following rather broad categories:

1) U.S. and foreign individuals in extremis situations involving potential life or death circumstances; (this is no change)
2) Senior U.S. and foreign government officials who make public statements or provide public updates;
3) U.S. and foreign government spokespersons who make public statements or provide public updates;
4) U.S. and foreign private sector officials and spokespersons who make public statements or provide public updates;
5) Names of anchors, newscasters, or on-scene reporters who are known or identified as reporters in their post or article or who use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed;
6) Current and former public officials who are victims of incidents or activities related to Homeland Security; and
7) Terrorists, drug cartel leaders or other persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest, (e.g., mass shooters such as those at Virginia Tech or Ft. Hood) who are killed or found dead.

Also, the department's "Media Monitoring Capability team can transmit personal information to the DHS National Operations Center over the phone as deemed necessary." In other words, there are a lot of loopholes here. Remember that the next time you tweet about an airport, or link to an article about marijuana on Facebook.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at March 1, 2012, 5:27am

 
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