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FBI seeks developer for app to track threats on social media

Friday, February 24, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: FBI, social media, tracking

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(NaturalNews) By now it should be painfully obvious that those who mean to rule us will use any method necessary in order to keep the unwashed masses under their control, regardless of whether that quaint historic document known as our Constitution permits it.

But just in case you didn't know, the FBI sent out another little reminder recently when the agency http://www.myfoxdc.com.

Oh, the bureau says this is all on the up-and-up, and that government law enforcement officials are merely interested in identifying early "emerging threats", whatever those are. The bureau's 12-page document, which is titled, "FBI Social Media Application," and posted online, seeks a developer for a program that has the ability "to rapidly assemble critical open source information and intelligence ... to quickly vet, identify and geo-locate breaking events, incidents and emerging threats."

Data mining like Google?

Frank Ciluffo, who heads up George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute, described the program as a "Google news feed" that was "specifically targeted for law enforcement, focusing on their specific needs."

The new app would also act as a tracking system, Ciluffo believes. "We're on our mobile phones and we're on our various iPhones, BlackBerrys and the like that transmits data that locates individuals," he said.

Ciluffo, who was a former advisor to George W. Bush, says he believes tracking social media trends is becoming a primary focus in national security instigations, but the app in question, he believes, has huge privacy implications - namely, whether law enforcement officials are permitted to monitor public social media posts without probable cause or a warrant.

The FBI, in a statement to Fox News, said the project was merely in the research phase. The agency says if it does go ahead, however, the app "will not focus on specific persons or protected groups, but on words that relate to 'events' and 'crisis' and activities constituting violations of federal criminal law or threats to national security."

Implausible deniability

To accept that explanation, you'd also have to be willing to accept that the FBI would not identify who posted those words, and that's a stretch at best. Also, what if someone posted those words in reference to something that had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism or a national security threat, as, say, words in an online article like this one?

How could the FBI not know who posted those words if the agency was using an app that "located" them on personal social media sites?

If this sounds like deja vu all over again to you, then pat yourself on the back. Just this month http://epic.org for its monitoring of social media Web sites, for information the department believes "reflects adversely" on it or the government in general.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which convinced a House subcommittee this week to look into the monitoring, citing constitutional issues, said a number of lawmakers supported the organization's http://epic.org

Not the only one

Oddly during the hearing before the House Homeland Security's subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, DHS officials said no other federal agency wanted to monitor social media sites. Really?

Guess they didn't know yet about the FBI's plans.

Whatever the "intent" of DHS or the FBI, EPIC's director, Ginger McCall, says enough is enough.

Noting that such monitoring "is entirely outside of the bounds" of the duties imposed on these agencies, she added that the "idea that the government is constantly peering over your shoulder and listening to what you are saying creates a very chilling effect to legitimate dissent."

She'll get no argument here.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.myfoxdc.com

http://epic.org/2012/02/congress-grills-department-of-.html

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://epic.org

http://www.newscientist.com
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