Big Sister is Watching You – Really
Freedom of speech allows journalists to get away with a lot in America, but the Department of Homeland Security is keeping close tabs on who is saying what to whom and about whom.
Under the new National Operations Center Media Monitoring Initiative, DHS has authority to find and retain data on journalists and just about everybody who uses social media to disseminate information.
So it's true. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano - aka Big Sister - is watching all of us.
Specifically, the DHS is now collecting personal identifiable information from news anchors, journalists, reporters and anyone else who may use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”
DHS defines "personal identifiable information" as anything “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, DHS only collected data from a limited list of sources, but under the new guidelines, any reporter, from network news anchors to teenage bloggers, can be monitored.
And it's not just journalists. DHS is also monitoring government officials at all levels and private sector employees who make public statements, and “persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest,” which to itself opens the possibilities even wider.
In short, DHS is watching pretty much anybody they want to watch.
A DHS spokesman insists the agency is only gathering information that's available to the public in social media sites. Even so, many people are asking why the government is going out of its way to spend so much time, money and resources watching people who have a constitutional right to bring news to the public.