Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Drill," "Trojan," "human to animal": Tweet this and the Department of Homeland Security may spy on you

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 6:43 PM

[Via Gawker]

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses fake Twitter accounts to monitor people. Really? I have never in my life suspected that.


In April, two months after DHS gave notice that it would be monitoring social networks in this way, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) fired off a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act. EPIC wanted details on the program: What type of software would DHS be using? What sort of training would DHS agents receive? Would HBGary — the tech firm that was earlier this year revealed to have been trying to use these very techniques in smear campaigns against Wikileaks, Anonymous and any labor union that dared to defy the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — be a government contractor on this?

(More after the jump)


But according to a lawsuit EPIC filed on Dec. 20, DHS never honored the information request. You can read the whole thing, but my favorite part is paragraph 9, which names some of the words that may trigger DHS robo-spies (EPIC seems to have focused particularly on the funny sex words):

DHS' social media monitoring initiative would allow the agency to "establish [fictitious] user names and passwords," to create covert social media profiles to spy on other users, deploy search tools, and record the online activity of particular users, based on the presence of such search terms, as "illegal immigrants," "drill," "infection," "strain," "outbreak," "virus," "recovery," "deaths," "collapse," "human to animal," and "Trojan."

So, now you know how to either avoid or, if you're so inclined, screw with the Department of Homeland Security.

Full EPIC legal complaint here: EPICLawsuit.pdf

Privacy statement from DHS with complete list of spy-inducing words: privacy_pia_ops_publiclyavailablesocialmedia_update.pdf

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