In the past, the National Counterterrorism Center could only retain information about you for 180 days if you did not have any links to terrorism.Well, that has now completely changed.Attorney General Eric Holder has signed new guidelines which will now allow the National Counterterrorism Center to hold on to your private information (including your Internet activity) for five years.But an extra four and a half extra years is no big deal, right?
In the past, potential employers would pull up the social media profiles of job candidates in order to get a better idea of who they might be hiring.But now, many potential employers are actually demanding the passwords to the Facebook accounts of job applicants.The following comes from a recent CBS News report.The bad news is that employers are increasingly asking job seekers for their Facebook and other social-media passwords as part of the process of vetting them.While it’s unclear how widespread that practice is, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that it is happening with increasing frequency, as CBS MoneyWatch’s Suzanne Lucas details. You can, of course, refuse to give a job interviewer your passwords. But expect your employment application to hit the round file, or the trash, if you don’t cooperate.
Do you remember the father that posted that “Facebook Parenting for the troubled teen” video that went wildly viral all over the Internet earlier this year?That video was watched more than 31 million times, but it also resulted in both the police and Child Protective Services officials visiting his home.So be careful what you post on YouTube. If you post something that they don’t like, law enforcement personnel may come knocking on your door.
The FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. military and the Federal Reserve have all announced plans to systematically monitor social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.These agencies have lists of “keywords” that they use to search for posts that they want to look at.For example, the words “attack”, “exercise” and “epidemic” are just three of the keywords that the Department of Homeland Security is known to use.So keep that in mind the next time you post something on Facebook or Twitter.The following is from a recent Salon article.In 2010, the DHS National Operations Center established a Media Monitoring Capability (MMC). According to an internal agency document, MMC is tasked with “leveraging news stories, media reports and postings on social media sites… for operationally relevant data, information, analysis, and imagery.” The definition of operationally relevant data includes “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities,” “partisan or agenda-driven sites,” and a final category ambiguously labeled “research/studies, etc.”
The Obama campaign has launched “truth teams” which will be scouring the Internet for any rumors that are “not true” about Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign.So if you post something on the Internet about Barack Obama that the Obama campaign does not consider to be truthful, there is a good chance that a “truth team” will be examining what you have written.
As I have written about previously, the FBI has hired a company in Virginia to systematically record talk radio programs (including Internet talk radio programs) all over the United States. The goal of this effort is to collect “potential evidence”, whatever that means. The following comes from an article by Mark Weaver of WMAL.com.If you call a radio talk show and get on the air, you might be recorded by the FBI.The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet.The FBI says it is not playing big brother by policing the airwaves, but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.
It isn’t just the U.S. government that is watching you on the Internet. The truth is that governments all over the world could be monitoring your Internet activity and you may never even know it.
In fact, the level of Internet surveillance in some countries is arguably even greater than it is in the United States.
For example, a new bill that has been introduced in Canada would give government authorities unprecedented power to monitor the Internet activities of Canadians.The so-called “lawful access” legislation, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday, will require Internet service providers and cellphone companies to hand over basic customer information — including name, address, phone number, email address, and ISP addresses ~ to authorities when requested, without the need for a warrant.
Dubbed “online spying” by critics, the bill is also expected to require ISPs and phone companies to install equipment for real-time surveillance and create new police powers designed to obtain access to the surveillance data.
The UK government is going even farther than that. A recent UK government report calls for ISPs to remove “extremist material” from the Internet. The following is an excerpt from that report.The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit does limited but valuable work in challenging internet service providers to remove violent extremist material where it contravenes the law. We suggest that the Government work with internet service providers in the UK to develop a Code of Conduct committing them to removing violent extremist material, as defined for the purposes of section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Many relevant websites are hosted abroad: the Government should also therefore strive towards greater international cooperation to tackle this issue.French President Nicolas Sarkozy is taking things even farther than that. He recently stated that anyone in France that is caught regularly visiting websites “preaching hatred” will be prosecuted.So what constitutes “extremist material” and what constitutes “preaching hatred”?Unfortunately, almost every government on earth has different definitions for those things.
For the U.S. government, it isn’t enough just to have bureaucrats and spooks spying on you. Now they want us to spy on one another.The Department of Homeland Security has been heavily promoting the “See Something, Say Something” campaign. The idea is that if you see something “suspicious” that you should report it to the authorities.Unfortunately, the definition of “suspicious activity” has expanded so dramatically in recent years that it could include just about anything.The paranoia among our leaders has gotten completely out of control. For example, a while back U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman requested that Google install a “terrorist button” on all Blogger.com blogs so that readers could easily flag “terrorist content” for authorities.Thankfully nothing like that has been implemented yet, but that is the direction that we are heading as a nation.
Most Americans have not even heard about this yet, but the truth is that starting later on this year your ISP will be spying on you to make sure that you are not downloading any copyrighted material.
SOPA and PIPA may have failed for now, but the Obama administration has brokered a deal between the entertainment industry and the major Internet providers that is absolutely unprecedented. This deal will go into effect on July 12th. The following is from a recent Raw Story article.If you download potentially copyrighted software, videos or music, your Internet service provider (ISP) has been watching, and they’re coming for you.Specifically, they’re coming for you on Thursday, July 12.That’s the date when the nation’s largest ISPs will all voluntarily implement a new anti-piracy plan that will engage network operators in the largest digital spying scheme in history, and see some users’ bandwidth completely cut off until they sign an agreement saying they will not download copyrighted materials.Word of the start date has been largely kept secret since ISPs announced their plans last June. The deal was brokered by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and coordinated by the Obama Administration.So be careful what you download on the Internet.Your ISP will be watching.
It is safe to assume that any digital communication that you ever make will be intercepted and monitored by the NSA.Of course this has been an open secret for years, but now the NSA is taking things to a whole new level.The NSA has been constructing the largest spy center in the history of the world out in the Utah desert. The following is how a recent Wired article described this new facility.Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails ~ parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”