Paying cash for a cup of coffee? Don’t let Twitter know…
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, February 17, 2012
Given the fact that the FBI has characterized the view that the U.S. should return to the gold standard as an extremist belief held by potential domestic terrorists, should goldbugs be concerned about the agency’s efforts to create a new app that tracks ‘suspicious comments’ made on social media websites?
A document posted online recently by the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeks developers to create an app that will have the capability to “rapidly assemble critical open source information and intelligence … to quickly vet, identify, and geo-locate breaking events, incidents and emerging threats.”
Critics of this new form of data mining fear that the FBI could follow the example of the Department of Homeland Security in monitoring social media websites for comments critical of the federal government.
“Information pulled from sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs could be cross referenced with other databases to identify potential threats,” the ACLU told Fox News.
Prime amongst those potential threats, according to the FBI’s counterterrorism division, are Americans who “believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard”. People who hold this political viewpoint should be treated as “extremists” who “pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers,” the FBI warned earlier this month.
In addition, as part of the FBI’s Communities Against Terrorism program, under which businesses are being recruited to spot potential terrorists, the agency characterizes paying cash for a cup of coffee, buying supplies of food in bulk, showing an interest in online privacy, and a myriad of other banal activities, as potential indications of terrorism.
Former FBI agent Mike German said comments made on a Twitter account deemed suspect by the FBI could create a “cloud of suspicion” over people merely using social media to express their First Amendment rights, warning that the feds could use the data to “increase video surveillance in a neighborhood.”
“Part of what we want to protect is the freedom to speak your mind, to criticize government policies without fear that the government will take it the wrong way and start treating you as if you’re a threat,” German told Fox News.
That chilling effect of Americans refraining from criticizing their government in online forums due to fears over reprisals was the subject of a congressional hearing yesterday.
A Department of Homeland Security monitoring effort similar to the FBI’s proposal stoked controversy after it emerged that the DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department.”
This included monitoring remarks by residents of Standish, Michigan in “newspaper comment talkbacks, local blogs, Twitter posts, and publicly available Facebook posts,” to gage the response to a plan to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to a local prison.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency also recently announced a plan to hire a private contractor to track news coverage of its activities in order to help “Monitor the effectiveness of public affairs messaging.”