Back in January, we made the outrageous claim that the Department of Homeland Security essentially admitted they were monitoring our website when it was revealed they were monitoring and recording social media for the topics we cover.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act, we now have internal Department of Homeland Security documents that detail the keywords and types of activity that warrant surveillance and scrutiny by government public safety officials.
To be clear, it’s not the DHS themselves but rather a well-compensated government contractor plumbing the public data to give real-time insight into whatever we’re supposed to be scared of today. We’re guilty of using about half the words on the list in the last few months alone. We here at News for End Times take the documents as definitive proof that our coverage of Eco Terrorism Suspicious Package/Device Viral Hemorrhagic (come on, who is going to spell that out?) Fever Drug Cartel Maritime Domain Awareness Brush Fire (brush fire? really?) is being tracked.
Any student of journalism knows about the chilling effect, which essentially is a discouragement to talk about something by threatening legal action, even though talking about it would be protected under First Amendment rights. We see this happening today, for example, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) trying to chill speech of a whistleblower who proved one billion dollars worth of scanners are worthless and easily defeated. It’s happening now around the blogosphere as we scratch our heads wondering how the hell this is supposed to help our security.
It begs the question: “What’s worse, corporations tracking your online behavior for their own profit, or government contractors invading your privacy to protect against some largely imagined terrorist threat.” Data mining on social networks is much like the other billions spent in vein by wasteful government efforts to project a false sense of security. They ought to just take their multimillion-dollar budget and buy us some emergency food and water supplies.
We are disappointed, but not surprised, that members of our federal government believe that surveilling the public data of the Internet will surface credible threats to the integrity of our nation. If such were true, they would have caught Kim Kardashian a long time ago.