Ethan A. Huff
February 4, 2012
What began as a simple program to address safety and security issues at the 2010 Winter Olympics has become a massive online spying operation targeted at journalists and writers. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’sMedia Monitoring Initiative(MMI) has been expanded to collect and track information from online forums, blogs, public websites, message boards, and social networking sites, as well as gather “personally identifiable information” (PII) on journalists and media writers.
According to the DHS report, the MMI expansion includes collecting PII on news anchors, newscasters, on-scene reporters, both on camera and on the internet, and various other media personalities who “use traditional and / or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed” — so basically anyone, in other words.
It also includes collecting personal information on US and foreign government officials, US and foreign government spokespersons, as well as those from private sector companies, and practically any other individuals that make public statements or that provide “public updates” in any way shape or form. Such individuals are conveniently all lumped together in the same list with terrorists and drug cartel leaders, which suggests that information gatherers and disseminators are now a threat to DHS.
You can view the DHS report by downloading it from the MMI section of the following page:http://www.dhs.gov/files/publications/gc_1284657535855.shtm
If you read between the lines, you will see that DHS has given itself a free pass to track and monitor the online activity ofNaturalNewswriters, for instance, as well those who write for other alternative media sites. And while the agency insists such spying will be limited to certain “necessary” situations, the scope of the provision itself leaves an open-ended interpretation on what is truly necessary.
In the opening statements of the MMIPrivacy Compliance Review, for example, DHS states that the collection of personal and other information on journalists and media personalities is necessary for “situational awareness” purposes and for “establishing a common operating procedure.” This includes information about the identity of an individuals, and any information that can be linked to that individual.
But who decides what is needed for establishing a common operating procedure or situational awareness, whatever these terms may mean? Well, it is DHS that decides, which means the agency will pick and choose who is perceived as a threat in order to potentially censor them, or worse. Be warned.
This article was posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 4:11 am