Government spying is actively taking place. Certain keywords are used by The Department of Homeland Security to monitor the internet for potential threats against the United States. The government agency was forced to release the list of keywords and phrases from a Freedom of Information Act request. The DHS uses some pretty seemingly innocuous words, such as "cloud," "team," "cops," "screening," "illegal immigrants," "flu," and "wave," and "hail," to monitor for threats against the United States or the government.
Are government analysts actually using this list to monitor people's internet activity? Yes, according to an article in the Daily Mail. The article explains that the list is "used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify 'media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities'." There are so many things wrong with this picture. Why is it okay for the government to monitor online activity? Who wrote the list and what criteria were used? Is this how Americans want their tax money spent?
The request for the list was made by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy watchdog group. According to the article, "analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that 'reflect adversely' on the government." What does that mean? The stunning breach of privacy needs to be addressed immediately. Americans should not passively allow this violation into their lives. If this type of activity is allowed and is seemingly fully accepted in the DHS, what is next? The level of intrusiveness is astounding.
How does this activity reconcile with the NSA Data Center being created in Utah?
Currently, "a massive data complex that can hold "five state capitals," consisting of 240 acres and about a million square feet of space is being built in Utah, where all United State citizens' web searches, online receipts, emails, audio recordings of phone calls, will be compiled. The server space is so humongous that it is difficult to comprehend. The cost of the project will be anywhere from $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion." Government spying is no longer a thing of novels and movies, but is happening daily and will only get worse.
Unfortunately, there is a level of apathy with the American people. There is a distressing belief by some that as long as there is "nothing to hide," there won't be any problems. This is a dangerous attitude, as the slope is slippery. Taxpayer money should not be spent on monitoring Americans. Surveillance drones have gotten the go ahead by congress and one watchdog group estimates that "30,000 drones could be in the nation's skies by 2020."
In another recent disturbing development, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 was added to the NDAA act. Introduced by Congressmen Thornberry and Smith, the law removes the requirement for government propaganda to only be allowed on foreign land. In other words, the "act will give the government the capability to produce or influence media content inside the U.S." The originators of the act say that "the amendment isn't being pushed to allow for the domestic distribution of propaganda," but it could be used that way.
Consider the thoughts of some American Leaders from the past:
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
Â— Thomas Jefferson
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Â— Benjamin Franklin
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
Â— James Madison