Mexico … Pork … Cloud … Team

Words to avoid online – the Electronic Privacy Information Center has posted a list of key words used by Department of Homeland Security to monitor online speech; obtained through a lawsuit after DHS refused to release the information pursuant to a FOIA request:

The intriguing list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The Department was then forced to release the 2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder following a House hearing on the documents that were obtained in the lawsuit; which includes instruction to identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities.”  The dailymail article linked to implies that DHS is expressly instructing employees to monitor dissent and criticism of the government – but I think the Binder makes it clear that one of the goals is to create a spin machine.  They want to know when bad things happen, and they want to know when people are talking trash about them so they can get ahead of them in the media.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t targeting dissent and criticism of the government, they just aren’t being as open about it as the dailymail article implies.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.

However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.

What not to say on the internet:

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