Homeland Security to step up monitoring of social networks

By Lee Kaelin on November 2, 2011, 9:30 AM

The increasing wave of uprisings across Africa and the Middle East this year have prompted the U.S. Government to start creating guidelines and the development of tools for culling intelligence from Twitter and other social networking sites.

The use of such technology in the uprisings seen in Tunisia last December shocked some officials into paying more attention, according to DoHS Undersecretary Caryn Wagner in a report by Associated Press. It has prompted questions as to whether the government should be doing a better job of monitoring the activity of domestic social networking sites.

"We're still trying to figure out how you use things like Twitter as a source," she said while speaking at the National Symposium in Colorado Springs on Monday. "How do you establish trends and how do you then capture that in an intelligence product?"

The department is establishing guidelines on how to get such information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook for the purposes of law-enforcement. The new tools and protocols are to be developed using strict laws and are meant to prevent spying on U.S. citizens and protect their privacy, but many already frustrated citizens will likely feel this is yet another attack on their rights.

Wagner further commented that the challenge was to develop a way of collecting and analyzing meaningful information that would provide law enforcement officials with valid intelligence. Another key aspect will be training hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers across the country to best utilize the new tools.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security does not actively monitor any social networking sites. They just scour the "open source" of information available online when they receive information regarding potential threats to locate possible references in much the same way anyone can search the internet.

The DoHS also recently released a bulletin warning those in charge of cyber-security of potential attacks by the online hacker collective, Anonymous.




User Comments: 12

Got something to say? Post a comment
Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Oh, joy. That's just what we need... more government oversight...

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

The economy might be 5-10 years behind the Government, but the Government is 10 years behind on understanding with the computer is capable of. NO information is sacred now.

Enjoy, decendants of the British Monarchy and members of the illuminati!

MilwaukeeMike said:

amstech said:

The economy might be 5-10 years behind the Government, but the Government is 10 years behind on understanding with the computer is capable of. NO information is sacred now.

Enjoy, decendants of the British Monarchy and members of the illuminati!

How is the economy behind the govt? If that were true, wouldn't they have passed financial reform BEFORE the recession?

I'm ok with this. At least once a month I see on the local news the cops caught someone because the dope was dumb enough to brag about (or post pics) his crime on facebook or twitter.

And anyway... we keep electing politicans who want to do things like provide our healthcare, cut down on corporate greed, and otherwise give us more privledges for being American. Don't be surprised when they want to monitor what you eat, how much you excersize, look at your financial records (IRS audit) or watch your favorite social site.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Politicians are illusions to make us think we have freedom of choice.

Guest said:

Is anyone paying attention? One day we'll wake up and wonder what happened to all of our rights and freedoms.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

This doesn't sound good at all...

Revolution 11 said:

This is not that surprising. I have been expecting something like this for years. Once warrantless wiretapping is considered the norm, stuff like monitoring social networks should be a no-brainer.

To the Guest above who is warning us to pay attention to our disappearing rights and freedoms, too late for that. Several years too late.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Fear of people backlash is perhaps at work here (ref: 'Anti Wall Street' movement? "Is Capitalism Losing the Debate?") ..........

treetops treetops said:

amstech said:

Politicians are illusions to make us think we have freedom of choice.

This

caravel said:

The core principle of the modern western "democracy" is to keep the people ignorant, apathetic, entertained and afraid. The illusion of democracy, or a token democracy, where the voter chooses between two or three similar political factions (offering different flavours of the same product) is often enough for the average person who knows nothing of their country's politics but votes based on the prettiest face or the spin that affects them directly (empty promises about healthcare, education and taxes, etc).

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

+1 caravel, couldn't have said it any better

Guest said:

People haven't been paying attention for a while, about a decade or so....or at least we're all paying attention and just to scared to do something about it...As others said, this one is not that surprising considering its almost 2012...

What little bit of "freedom" and "rights" Americans had ended with the Bush era...and thats not a compliment to Bush..

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_A
t - This was the end of "freedom" as most know it...and nobody did anything....we all just sat there and took it, ate it all up...

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.