schwit1 shares a CNN report: The Biden administration is considering using outside companies to track extremist gossip from Americans online, an effort that would expand the government’s ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over the surveillance of U.S. citizens. The plan discussed within DHS, according to several sources, would indeed allow the department to bypass ” [restrictions the U.S. government has to surveil American citizens]. A source close to the effort said it was not about deciphering the data, but rather using outside entities that can legally access these private groups to collect large amounts of information that could help the government. DHS to identify key stories as they emerge.
In response to CNN’s story, DHS said it “does not partner with private companies to monitor suspected national terrorists online” and “it is patently false” to suggest that the department uses companies external to bypass its legal limits. “All of our work in dealing with the threat of domestic terrorism is carried out in accordance with the Constitution and other applicable laws, and in close coordination with our experts in the protection of privacy and civil liberties,” the DHS statement added. . But the department has considered partnering with research companies that have more visibility in the space, although it has yet to do so, the sources say. If this ultimately happens, DHS could produce information that would likely be beneficial to both itself and the FBI, which cannot monitor U.S. citizens in this manner without first obtaining a warrant or having the pretext of a investigation in progress. The CIA and NSA are also limited in collecting intelligence at the national level.
Researchers who are already monitoring this activity online could act as intermediaries to obtain the information. DHS officials contend that the materials provided would consist only of broad summaries or analyzes of narratives that emerge on these sites and would not be used to target specific individuals. But some of the research firms and nonprofit groups DHS examined periodically use secret identities to access private social media groups like Telegram, and others used by domestic extremist groups. This plunges DHS into a potential legal gray area even as it fills an intelligence gap that critics say contributed to the failure of the prediction of the assault on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s team could partner with private companies to monitor online Chatter extremists
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