Why this will be the most searched article on the internet
By Meghan Henoumont
Who looks in a dictionary or newspaper anymore? With the rise of the Internet and digital search engines, such as Google, answers are just a click away. So if you’ve been wondering if the clouds in Mexico are capable of producing a tornado, or if the airport in San Diego has ever had a power grid collapse, or if you’ve wondered what exactly the feared Al Qaeda (all spellings) is, be careful typing your questions into the alluring search bar, because there’s a good chance you are being watched, by your own government.
In 2011 a non-profit government watchdog group called EPIC submitted a formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release information about the agency’s surveillance of social networks and news organizations.
According to the group’s website, epic.org, “…the Department of Homeland Security announced that the agency planned to implement a program that would monitor media content, including social media data. The proposed initiatives would gather information from online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards and disseminate information to federal, state, local, and foreign government and private sector partners.”
After months of no response from the DHS, EPIC filed a lawsuit for the disclosure of documents relating to the agency’s media surveillance program. In January 2012, the DHS disclosed 285 pages of agency records in response to EPIC’s lawsuit. The documents included contracts, price estimates, Privacy Impact Assessment, and communications concerning DHS Media Monitoring program.
The documents included details of the DHS’s intention (and execution) of spying on social network users and journalists. Included was a list of key words that if searched on the Internet gives DHS the right to track and spy on whoever types them in, and it gets worse.
Here are a few actual excerpts from those documents:
So, the next time you tweet a phrase that includes the word pork or riot you can be sure your followers aren’t the only ones reading it.