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NSA Spying more Intrusive than Expected

Feb 24, 2014

Search Terms the Government is Using to Monitor you are more Surprising than you Think

The recent allegations of National Security Agency spying has resulted in many people wondering just how much the government actually is watching them. The Electronic Privacy Information Center wondered the same thing, and submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security, with some very startling results.

What was obtained by EPIC was material that is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analyst Desktop Binder. This publication serves as a reference manual of sorts for DHS agents, and lists certain search terms that are used when monitoring social media sites to “provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture.”

A number of government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, United States Coast Guard and the CIA are among the search terms. There are also other categories related to domestic security, hazmat and nuclear, health concerns, infrastructure security, southwest border violence, terrorism, and weather/disaster/emergency. These categories sound good, until you learn some of the terms that are listed under each one of them.

Some of the common terms included on the list include cops, law enforcement, deaths, first responder, violence, bacteria, airport and flu. Even weather-related terms such as hurricane, earthquake and tsunami are included.

EPIC has apparently written a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence, claiming that these search terms are far too broad and ambiguous. The Department of Homeland Security states in its official publication that it could possibly add even more search terms to these in the future.

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