Remember back in the good ol’ days when Americans only needed to feel paranoid about being watched when they were communicating with foreign Jihadis?
Reuters reported Wednesday afternoon:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”
The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to “collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”
The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
A DHS official familiar with the monitoring program said that it was intended purely to enable command center officials to keep in touch with various Internet-era media so that they were aware of major, developing events to which the Department or its agencies might have to respond.
These include social networking sites Facebook and My Space – though there is a parenthetical notice that My Space only affords a “limited search” capability – and more than a dozen sites that monitor, aggregate and enable searches of Twitter messages and exchanges.
Among blogs and aggregators on the list are ABC News’ investigative blog “The Blotter;” blogs that cover bird flu; several blogs related to news and activity along U.S. borders (DHS runs border and immigration agencies); blogs that cover drug trafficking and cybercrime; and websites that follow wildfires in Los Angeles and hurricanes.
The Atlantic Wire listed specific sites they’re monitoring:
- The Drudge Report
- The Huffington Post
- The New York Times‘s Lede blog
- Wired’s Threat Level
- Wired’s Danger Room
- ABC News’ investigative blog The Blotter
- “blogs that cover bird flu … news and activity along U.S. borders … drug trafficking and cybercrime”
- Jihad Watch
- Informed Comment
I added Jihad Watch, Cryptome, and Informed Comment because they were also specifically mentioned in the Reuters article.
DHS confirmed to Reuters the authenticity of the list, but officials authorized to speak for the Department did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.