While the FBI looks to hire app developers to help them snoop around social media sites, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring blogs for signs of domestic terrorism. Jackie Speier, a San Francisco Bay Area based Congresswoman is demanding they stop. She said as much during a Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence meeting Feb. 16. Outraged was the term Speier used, and she called for the suspension of the DHS program that has been in place since at least 2006, Wired.com's Threat Level security blog reported. In fact, that Web site is one of the sites being monitored along with Wikileaks, Drudge Report, Facebook and The Huffington Post.
The FBI's program of building social media snooping apps comes under the same mandate as the DHS' own data mining work. A 12-page document called FBI Social Media Application has been posted online, and it details the FBI's intent to use social media sites to help track down and otherwise locate potential threats or breaking events. The ACLU is monitoring this activity, and Mike German, who works on the organization's national security section said the FBI is overlooking fundamental issues of privacy.
Even where you're talking about published information, information people intentionally put out there on the Internet, we still have a right not to have that monitored by the government, German told Fox News.com.
The government really doesn't have any interest in tracking someone's Twitter account if they're not doing something wrong or suspected of doing something wrong.
In a statement, the FBI said they were only looking for keywords like bomb, active shoot, lockdown or white powder, for example. As to the DHS project, their social media work only came to light after a lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in December 2011. They called for an immidiate end (pdf) to the program, and Speier aggreed with all of their recommendations.
This should not be a political operation, she said