Photo: Among List of Words Used Online, Flagged by Gov't - Mexico, Border, Trafficking, Illegal Immigrants
Pressured using the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released its list of words it monitors online, both in online media and on social media sites like Facebook.
The list, which is used by DHS’s National Operations Center, is used as means of identifying possible threats to the nation’s security, however, many wonder if it’s just another form of “big brother” keeping an eye on everyone.
The list, part of the ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder’, includes a number of words like “attack”, “Al Qaeda”, and “terrorism”, but also has a section of keywords labeled, Southwest Border Violence (see below).
On any given day, one uses many of these words online, thinking nothing of it, as most are not plotting terrorist attacks or drug smuggling trips.
In letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wrote that the keywords and terms are vague and broad and include “vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.”
EPIC, a privacy watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information Act request and later sued for the release of the 39-page document.
Earlier this year, DHS told the Huffington Post that the manual ‘is a starting post, not the endgame’ for maintaining “situational awareness of natural and man-made threats.”