It’s pretty obvious by now that the U.S. government wants to desperately spy on our online activities. Reports that the NSA is building a giant facility to intercept and record our communication are pretty bad, but groups like the NSA and FBI already watch for certain words online all in the name of protecting you from the bad guys. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we now know what those words are.
The full document containing the keywords is called the “Analyst’s Desktop Binder.” The document comes from 2011 so we can consider it to be pretty recent. The people who use the document as a guideline are those working at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Operation Center. Those working at the center look for words to spot signs of danger so they can stop attacks before they happen, or so that’s what they say.
The Daily Mail reports that the document was forced into the open after people questioned the true reason behind the monitoring. There are those who believe that the U.S. government is only monitoring online activities and keywords to find those that criticize the government online and spread dissent. The government obviously denies those claims and sticks to its claims that they’re only trying to protect its citizens.
The words that the government actively looks for are split into a number of categories. The categories range from the usual suspects like “Domestic Security” and “HAZMAT & Nuclear” to things like “Southwest Border Violence” and “Weather/Disaster/Emergency.” All of these categories contain some bizarre words that you wouldn’t even think about when it comes to these categories like “pork” in the “Health Concern + H1N1” category. Sure, H1N1 is swine flu, but pork is a common enough word that it’s used outside of talking about a specific illness.
The most interesting category of all, however, is “Cyber Security.” Oddly enough, Anonymous is not listed in the group of keywords although I assume the term will be there in the updated keyword list for this year. Some of the terms in the category include “China,” “2600,” and “DDOS.”
According to the DHS, they don’t just look at these words and go into high alert every time a person talks about cooking up some pork on Facebook. Speaking to The Daily Mail, a spokesperson said that they review the context before they start firing signal flares.
That’s a relief, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the word “Anthrax” to refer to the legendary metal band. Hopefully the DHS doesn’t employ people who think listening to metal is tantamount to social disorder.
Check out the full list of words below. I’ve set up the document to skip to the list of words immediately, but it’s worth checking out the full report to see how the DHS monitors what you say on social media.