January 13, 2012
Government Monitoring Social Networks And Social Media
According to a government document, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) command center routinely monitors websites like Facebook, Twitter and WikiLeaks.
The DHS issued a "privacy compliance review" last November that said since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability".The operation involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards."
The government document said the purpose of the monitoring is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."
The document said that monitoring done by the DHS is to manage government responses to events like the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti, and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Reuters reports the document states that all the websites which the command center will be monitoring were "publicly available and... all use of data published via social media sites was solely to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating pictures, and more timely information for decision makers..."
A DHS official told the news agency that the department would not keep permanent copies of the Internet traffic it monitors. However, the document does say the operations center "will retain information for no more than five years."
Sites that are being monitored by DHS include Facebook, MySpace, Hulu, the Huffington Post, Drudge Report, Threat Level and others.
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