DHS Paid Contractor $1.16M to Monitor Social Networks, News Media, Blogs &
Comments for Dissent
Jan 13, 2012 by Joel Zand (@jzand)
A Freedom of Information Act ('FOIA') lawsuit (below) by the Electronic
Privacy Information Center ('EPIC') reveals that the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security paid contractors to monitor Facebook, Twitter other social
networks, blogs, and comments on news media websites.
The documents (below) disclose that the federal government paid at least $1.
16 million to private contractor General Dynamics to monitor social
networks, blogs, and news media sites for "public reaction to major
governmental proposals with homeland security implications." That's
government bureaucratic-speak for public dissent.
The legal implications of U.S. social networking surveillance programs
tracking dissent of its own citizens, even with open source tools, are
The DHS activities are one of the key reasons why the U.S. Senate created
the Church Committee in the 1970′s to investigate why federal agencies were
investigating political dissent, spying on American's who disagreed with U.
Frank ChurchMore than 35 years ago, the Church Committee, headed by Idaho
Democratic Senator Frank Church (Inset; Source: U.S. Senate) concluded that
Americans had a "need for perpetual surveillance of the intelligence
community" to prevent similar unlawful monitoring of Americans in the
future. This resulted in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a
Committee that should have oversight of the kinds of wrongs that EPIC found
DHS's lawsuit found out have been perpetrated DHS and contractors at
What are some of the things that DHS paid and tasked General Dynamics to
monitor? Take a look:
¶ 4.1.1 The Contractor shall perform a broad open sources search
for information on breaking news stories. The contractor shall:
18.104.22.168 Monitor major broadcast networks
22.214.171.124 Monitor and review all Associated Press (AP) stories
generated within the U.S. by each state's AP bureau
126.96.36.199 Monitor and receive alerts on local and regional broadcast
news via categorized/focused text/video feeds
188.8.131.52 Monitor and receive alerts on other wire service stories via
categorized/focused Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds
184.108.40.206 Monitor appropriate Internet web sites on breaking
220.127.116.11 Monitor and receive full motion video (FMV) or other
If an "incident" occurred - a "National Security Situation /
International Security Situation (NSS/ISS)" - General Dynamics had to
continue working on the six items above, in addition to:
18.104.22.168 Query and search the Internet using other search engines
such as Google and Yahoo
22.214.171.124 Continue to monitor/review reports available via above open
sources for information on other breaking news stories
Here are some of the documents disclosed in EPIC's FOIA litigation against
DHS Responses to EPIC's FOIA Request
Here is the complaint (below) and case docket in EPIC's FOIA lawsuit
recently filed against DHS:
Complaint: Electronic Privacy Information Center v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland
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