According to an article from Wired Magazine, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has hired Accenture Federal Services to conduct a one-year investigation into the effectiveness of using social media to identify bio-terrorism, pandemic, and other national security risks.
The $3 million dollar program will scan social networks, blogs, and other social media channels to identify certain keywords that DHS finds suspicious. For instance, if you posted a status update on twitter talking about having flu-like symptoms, the software could flag, and then find similar medical terminology within your groups or your local area.
DHS is claiming the software will help them better predict pandemic outbreaks, or bio-terror attacks; privacy advocates aren’t so sure. In fact, DHS is already under investigation, and facing a number of lawsuits from civil liberties groups who claim the agency is using this information to conduct illegal and unconstitutional searches.
According to a Statement from Accenture, the software will continuously monitor social media networks, blogs and other online channels that have yet to be identified. While in theory, this all sounds nice and beneficial; from a privacy standpoint, the system seems ripe for abuse.
Earlier this year, we reported on the Department of Homeland Security’s attempts to monitor prepping and survival website, so the news that they’re now admitting to monitoring social sites and blogs really shouldn’t come as a huge shock.