Homeland Security Document: ‘All Your Websites Are Belong to Us’

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) will monitor blogs, social media, public forums, message boards and keywords to create a “real time” estimate of the U.S. national threat situation.

Homeland Security Document: 'All Your Websites Are Belong to Us'

The Mexican paper Milenio reported a few weeks back that the Department of Homeland Security Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPC) through its National Operations Center (NOC) will monitor social media websites, blogs, public forums, news websites and keywords to create a “real-time snapshot of the [U.S.] nation’s threat environment at any moment.”

As the document, titled “Privacy Impact Assessment of Public Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative,” states:

The NOC will use Internet-based platforms that provide a variety of ways to follow activity relatedto monitoring publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards. Through the use of publicly available search engines and content aggregators the NOC will monitor activities on the social media sites listed in Appendix A for information that the NOC can use to provide situationalawareness and establish a common operating picture. Appendix A is a current list of sites that the NOC will use as a starting point under this Initiative. Initial sites listed may link to other sites not listed. The NOCmay also monitor those sites if they are within the scope of this Initiative. The NOC will gather, store,analyze, and disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, andforeign governments, and private sector partners authorized to receive situational awareness and a commonoperating picture.

Note the highlighted sentence above. Many social media sites, forums and content aggregators link to thousands upon thousands of other websites, forums, etc.—meaning Homeland Security will be profiling many thousands more websites than are listed in Appendix A of the document.

The document states “The unused information for each item of interest is not stored or filed for reference, but is lost when the webpage is closed or deleted,” but it seems rather unlikely that they would simply dispose of such information if it were useful to DHS.

Appendix B is a list of the current search term’s for the NOC initiative.

And if anyone was wondering if the initiative would be looking into the information of users of such websites, it’s there in detail:

“The NOC will review information posted by individual account users on third-party social media websites of activities and events necessary to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture. The NOC will access these web-based platforms to identify contentposted by public users for the purpose of providing situational awareness and establishing a commonoperating picture.”

Translation: Post an article or idea with one of the NOC search terms and it will be collected by the Department of Homeland Security for threat reports.

Over and over again throughout the document’s text the DHS states “The aggregation of data published via social media sites should make it possible for the NOC to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating picture, and more timely information for decision makers.”

The description is naturally vague and could ultimately be applied to any perceived threat—any individual or group (and not just Islamic terrorists) that is perceived to be a threat to the United States—from now into the distant future.

Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Cryptome and Drudge Report would be monitored, as would keywords such as: cops, attack, police, authorities, DDoS (distributed denial of service), botnet, hacker and rootkit.

With Facebook’s stellar record on user privacy, they’re probably collecting and organizing the intel for DHS and giving them some hand jobs on the way out.

Read the document over at Milenio.