GovLaunch: DHS defends social media information mining to House panel

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    Corey McCarren

    Nextgov reported Thursday (2/16/2012) that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has defended its social media monitoring program during a hearing in front of the United States House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. The subcommittee is charged with oversight of intelligence sharing within the DHS. The hearing was held because it was discovered by a Freedom of Information Act request that the DHS has hired a private contractor, General Dynamics, to mine social media sites for potential threats. Regarding the mining of information, subcommittee chairman Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) had this to say:

    “In my view collecting, analyzing and disseminating private citizens’ comments could have a chilling effect on individual privacy rights and people’s freedom of speech and dissent against their government”

    The DHS said that unless there is a life or death situation, they do not pull identifying information about average citizens. Subcommittee members worried that the program could be violating 4th Amendment rights protecting Americans against unreasonable search.

    Is the program, which looks at information that people shared on social media, an infringement on 4th Amendment rights? Are social media sites necessary to monitor for national security?

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