Article Lead Image

Homeland Security wants to better monitor social media and the Dark Net

Homeland Security may soon be hiring to watch the Web.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Jan 27, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 7:39 am CDT

Homeland Security may soon be hiring to watch the Web.

The U.S. agency wants to get better at analyzing things like language, videos, and audio coming from sources ranging from Twitter to the Dark Net.

After last month’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California, multiple senators called for a new law that would allow Homeland Security to check the social media of immigrants entering the United States have checked. The push was based on a New York Times report claiming that the shooters spoke openly on Facebook about their support for violent jihad. The director of the FBI has since debunked that claim, saying all messages were private.

Even so, the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), and the DHS Social Media Task Force (SMTF) put out a request for information on open source and social media analytic capabilities that, among things, would aid criminal investigations and the screening of individuals and organizations traveling or seeking government benefits.

Homeland Security’s request for information is merely the first step in the process to ascertain new capabilities to monitor and analyze social media and the Dark Net. Throughout the request, the agency repeatedly emphasizes that all monitoring will “provide privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties-protecting” capabilities.

Homeland security is looking to improve the following:

  • Data collection and analysis from sources including Twitter and Facebook, blogs, and the Dark Net.
  • Analysis of multimedia including images, audio, and video.
  • Keyword and language processing analysis, including as many languages as possible.
  • An easy-to-use interface and capable information sharing abilities.
  • Formidable information security capabilities.

In keeping with bureaucratic tradition, companies who want to be hired by Homeland Security will have to provide granular detail on things like storage, streaming, hosting, system integration, and more.

Any applicants will also have to identify how they protect the privacy and civil rights of U.S. citizens through methods like data removal. The deadline to submit your personal plan is Feb. 9, 2016.

Illustration by Max Fleishman 

Share this article
*First Published: Jan 27, 2016, 1:17 pm CST