13 January 2012
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center
routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook,
Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the
Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that
since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been
operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular
monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites
and message boards." The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to
"collect information used in providing situational awareness and
establishing a common operating picture." The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is
designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S.
Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage
government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath
in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter
Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. A DHS official familiar with the monitoring program said that it was
intended purely to enable command center officials to keep in touch with
various Internet-era media so that they were aware of major, developing
events to which the Department or its agencies might have to respond.