Why the Department of Homeland Security may be monitoring your journalism and/or tweets
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Why the Department of Homeland Security may be monitoring your journalism and/or tweets

Washington : DC : USA | Jan 10, 2012 at 8:40 PM PST
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Why is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security monitoring American journalists in the USA? See, Homeland Security monitors journalists | Travel Underground. In the USA, freedom of speech has its appropriate and legal limits, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Be aware that the U.S. government is watching journalists to monitor what they write or say. See the site, Department of Homeland Security | Preserving our Freedoms.

On the other hand, check out the article, "Homeland Security Monitoring All Journalists & Social Media Users." You could reply, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

And you could continue, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." But will anyone listen to you (as a journalist or freelance writer, or commentator)?

This initiative is called the National Operations Center (NOC)’s Media Monitoring Initiative. The 'operations' sprang up from the DHS headquarters in November, 2011. Washington has the written permission to retain data on users of social media and online networking platforms. See, Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center.

And check out the site, Daily Kos: DHS to "collect personal information from news anchors. Here's what the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) can do. The DHS announced the NCO and its Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.”

In real time, eh? Traditional? Keeping readers informed? That means you also, the citizen journalist. Watch what you say and stay 'normal' and 'appropriate.' If you rant and rave or show emotion in your writing (unless it's compassion), you will be monitored, even your tweets and guffaws.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s own definition of personal identifiable information, or PII, such data could consist of any intellect “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 established guidelines within the administration say that data could only be collected under authorization set forth by written code, but the new provisions in the NOC’s write-up means that any reporter, whether someone along the lines of Walter Cronkite or a budding blogger, can be victimized by the agency.

Check out the article for details, Homeland Security monitors journalists | Travel Underground. According to that article, included in the roster of those subjected to the spying are government officials, domestic or not, who make public statements, private sector employees that do the same and “persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest,” which to itself widely opens various possibilities. Remember when people used to 'flame' others in social media postings? Well, this seems to be a somewhat like a watchdog over similar postings and news leaks and beyond to news writing, including anchor news commentators on the air as well as in print and online.

What you're being monitored for is public information you write on various journalism sites that can be read by the public, including social media.

Ask yourself why the government is spending resources watching those who observe the news and report it with or without pay? Could it be because of the publicity surrounding journalism sources online varying from WikiLeaks to Twitter? Is there anyone who would like to stop information from Twitter blurbs from going into files given to federal prosecutors?

Maybe it's because some journalists could be in a position to be whistle blowers? After all, you can't video record on private property like a factory farm. But what about writing news? The DHS maybe doesn't want you to leak anything in words made public or video or photos. Then what does the DHS want journalists to do?

And is there a division in the way journalists employed by major newspapers or TV stations are treated compared to freelance independent contractors who supply content such as news with or without pay to citizen journalism sites or other sites that don't pay a specific salary for reporting the news? But of course, you still pay taxes on your small earnings, if any. So what does the DHS want from you, the journalist?

Are freelance citizen journalists paid or unpaid second class citizens when it comes to respecting journalists in general? After all, you may not be given a press pass to a conference in some places or with some companies unless you work as an employee for a paper or TV station or radio. Independent contractors, though are monitored just the same as salaried journalists on newspapers, radio stations, and TV news programs.

Maybe it's all about shutting up supporters of WikiLeaks. Maybe nobody should leak anything out, but citizen journalists, of course, have no access to anything leaking if they are otherwise freelance and unemployed and have no contacts other than children, kitchen, and maybe husband.

Sure, it has to be about the whistleblower sites online. Why else would journalists be monitored by the Dept. of Homeland Security? What do you think? Should your Twitter account always be given to federal prosecutors? How about going to law school and becoming a federal prosecutor yourself, if you can compete for such a job? But for most of us unemployed, low-income freelance journalists who work as independent contractors, does the event have any meaning at all of what our Twitter accounts say? Who would care? Well, the government would care if you were a whistleblower.

You have all these lawyers fighting to keep DHS from sunpoenaing your social media accounts or what you write in the news online. Is it worth it if nobody pays you enough money to buy a long-lasting pair of shoes or a warm winter jacket? Does it matter?

Personal accounts were collected from Twitter from some whistleblowers. Are you a journalist or a whistleblower? How many more times will district attorneys keep on subpoenaing Twitter over details of various people or groups perhaps ranging from whistleblowers to the Occupy Movement protestors? Of course, the DHS is about homeland security. Hey, I want security. As a home-based senior citizen of low mobility, I want security in my home and land.

Journalists, though should know that intelligence is collected by the Department of Homeland Security under the NOC Monitoring Initiative. More newsworthy, though is the fact that it started last year. And even more of interest to you as journalist, is that your data and other journalist's data from tweets to articles may have been shared with both private sector businesses and international third parties.

Should you care? For journalists covering numerous types of news, be aware. The DHS is monitoring journalists from the WikiLeaker to the Whistleblower and beyond. Maybe it's time you asked to see your file, if there is any. Or you could write about the cute, the popular, and the fashionable.

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AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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