DHS: We mainly monitor the social media of government officials


The most common category of individual whose social media activity has been recently monitored by the Homeland Security Department is that of a senior U.S. or foreign government official, says a departmental review.

The review (.pdf), published Nov. 8 by the DHS privacy office, says that from March 1 to Aug. 31, the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning National Operations Center distributed 9,338 reports containing information gleaned from social media, of which 770 had personally identifiable information.

DHS is allowed to collect personally identifiable information embedded in social media so long as it's associated with seven categories of individuals, including American citizens or foreign individuals in potential life or death circumstances, current or former public officials involved in a homeland security incident or activities, terrorists or other persons "known to have been involved in major crimes" of homeland security interest who are killed or found dead. The other four categories involve categories of individuals already in the public eye, such as reporters and private- or public- sector officials who make statements.

In the 770 reports that contained personally identifiable information generated during that 5 month period, 48 percent contained identifiable information about senior U.S. or foreign government officials. The next most common category of affected individual, at 19 percent, was that of U.S. or foreign spokespersons.

The national operations center itself does not interact with individuals on social media sites, the review says.


For more:
- download the review (.pdf)

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