Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

DHS Seeks to Compile Database on Journalists, Bloggers and Influencers

Fotosearch_k48252756
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

If you read our blogs with Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, you will notice that we sometimes write about the intersection of technology and immigration, and technology and freedom of speech.

And you will probably notice that we have been covering DHS’s aggressive shift to data collection and database creation in a clear effort to intimidate.

Yes, the Department of Homeland Security is in the business of data collection, not only from migrants who enter the country legally and illegally but also of citizens and legal residents.

This is an example of how infringement of the liberties of one group (immigrants) serves as a slippery slope to infringe on the liberties of others (legal residents and citizens of this country).

We wrote about the efforts to collect individuals’ features through facial recognition technology at ports of entry, and the collection of social media information from legal immigrants.

Recently, journalists informed us that DHS is seeking to collect information on them, in a broad net that includes bloggers and media “influencers.”

I know this sounds like a plot from a dystopian novel: The most powerful country in the world is led by a corrupt former reality TV show host who orders his underlings to crack down on journalists and commentators’ freedom of expression by the use of avant-garde technologies.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security is looking for the company that will be administering those services.

This seems so far out that Snopes, a website dedicated to investigating the veracity or falsehood of information on the net, wrote about this issue, affirming it was true and providing the documentation for the procurement of the data collection services.

Read for yourself. Here is the Statement of Work (SOW) for Media Monitoring Services.

“Services shall enable [the DHS’s National Protection and Program’s Directorate] to monitor traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event. Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.”

The request includes the ability to track 290,000 journalists, commentators and influencers around the world in all media, from all industries, in more than 100 languages. That includes the collection of variables such as “content, volume, and sentiment.”

Scary.

Journalists and writers have reached out to DHS to seek more information and explanation, but DHS rejects the implication of any nefarious purpose for the data collection, calling it “tin foil hat wearing” by “black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”

The issue is: Would you trust DHS under the Trump administration on the collection of data?