The U.S. Department of Homeland Security regularly monitors dozens of websites, including Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks, YouTube, and even the New York Times Lede Blog, Global Voices Online, and the Blog del Narco, in order to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture," reported Reuters.
Why is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security monitoring American journalists in the USA?
In the USA freedom of speech has its appropriate and legal limits, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Be aware that the U.S. government is watching journalists to monitor what they write or say. See the site, Department of Homeland Security Preserving our Freedoms.
This initiative is called the National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative. The 'operations' sprang up from the DHS headquarters in November, 2011. Washington has the written permission to retain data on users of social media and online networking platforms. See, Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center.
And check out the site, Daily Kos "DHS to "collect personal information from news anchors". Here's what the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) can do. The DHS announced the NCO and its Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”
In real time, eh? Traditional? Keeping readers informed? That means you also, the citizen journalist. Watch what you say and stay 'normal' and 'appropriate.' If you rant and rave or show emotion in your writing (unless it's compassion), you will be monitored, even your tweets and guffaws.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s own definition of personal identifiable information, or PII, such data could consist of any intellect “that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that individual.” Previously established guidelines within the administration say that data could only be collected under authorization set forth by written code, but the new provisions in the NOC’s write-up means that any reporter, whether someone along the lines of Walter Cronkite or a budding blogger, can be victimized by the agency.
Check out the article for details, Homeland Security monitors certain journalists | Travel Underground. According to that article, included in the roster of those subjected to the spying are government officials, domestic or not, who make public statements, private sector employees that do the same and “persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest,” which to itself widely opens various possibilities. Remember when people used to 'flame' others in social media postings? Well, this seems to be a somewhat like a watchdog over similar postings and news leaks and beyond to news writing, including anchor news commentators on the air as well as in print and online.
Ask yourself why the government is spending resources watching those who observe the news and report it with or without pay?
Maybe it's all about shutting up supporters of WikiLeaks. Maybe nobody should leak anything out, but citizen journalists, of course, have no access to anything leaking if they are otherwise freelance and unemployed and have no contacts other than children, kitchen, and maybe husband.
Sure, it has to be about the whistleblower sites online. Why else would journalists be monitored by the Dept. of Homeland Security? What do you think? Should your Twitter account always be given to federal prosecutors? How about going to law school and becoming a federal prosecutor yourself, if you can compete for such a job? But for most of us unemployed, low-income freelance journalists who work as independent contractors, does the event have any meaning at all of what our Twitter accounts say? Who would care? Well, the government would care if you were a whistleblower.
This week the Homeland Security's National Operations Center (NOC) published a complete list of the monitored websites. Besides the New York Times Lede Blog, other news sites and blogs on the watch list include the Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, a couple of Wired blogs, ABC News' investigative blog "The Blotter," and Ushahidi Haiti.
The NOC’s Media Monitoring Initiative, approved in November, means the government "can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use 'traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situational-aware and informed,'" according to RT.com. The monitoring has been going on at least since June 2010, Reuters said.
Anne Hart speculates for All Voices that the monitoring initiative is really about keeping tabs on potential whistle blowers and journalists who might report the leaks.
According to the Chicago Examiner, the initiative has "serious implications for not only journalistic freedom, but to all Americans', freedom."
Should you care? For journalists covering numerous types of news, be aware. The DHS is monitoring journalists from the WikiLeaker to the Whistleblower and beyond. Maybe it's time you asked to see your file, if there is any.
Knight Center for Journalism