The Devil Is In The Details: DHS Monitoring Web & "Wrong" Words 

DHS will monitor more U.S. citizens on the Internet, the feds may have the power to pull the plug on the Web, and certain words automatically incriminate you if used in emails. It's been a busy week, eroding away at privacy. The devil in the details of censorship.

Cyber-terrorists and the dreaded cyberwar have escalated to the point of the "feds" pulling the plug on the Internet in case of an emergency. Then DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said that in the future there will be "increased" Internet monitoring of U.S. citizens due to the dangers of homegrown terrorism. Napolitano remarked on how "wrong" it is to believe that if "security" is embraced, that liberty will be sacrificed.

I'm not saying that we don't need security because we do. To say it will not impact liberty or privacy is naive, a "big mistake," and I "strongly disagree."

Blaming the Internet for terrorism is like blaming money for corruption or blaming guns for murders; it's "dumb." Not all people who have money are corrupt and not all who have guns are murderers. Not all of us on the Internet are terrorists. No amount of monitoring, regulating, or censoring will change the behavior of people who wield those things for evil.

You may be wondering why some italicized words are in quotation marks. They are search terms that attorneys investigating Lehman Brothers had used to dig through 34 million pages of documents. Use those words paired with others listed in the examiner's report from pages 158 - 284 and you could be busted for incriminating correspondence. It's a "significantly" long list.

Land on a "bad" page or add the "wrong" words in an "email" and Tag, you're it! How far are we from being put on a watch list or arrested to voice a "concern" or to "discuss" that our government is becoming the biggest privacy threat to hit America?

According to the Associated Press, Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, "The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet."

I was "shocked" to see more of our privacy eroding away (not really). "I don't think we should" sit back, "speechless" and not voice our right to privacy or it will be "too late." Is it better to censor yourself than to "risk" "writing" an incriminating email? Have you ever used the word "haircut" in an email? That too is on the list of damaging search terms. If you use the wrong query terms, even in research, it can result in a "crisis" to your privacy. Yes these words would be taken in context but if you write "security," how many times have you used "breach" or another danger word?

As in the legal case against NSA warrantless wiretaps, it seems that mass surveillance is immune from judicial review. Who watches the watchers? The devil is in the details. Mass surveillance is not coming, it's here. It's been here for a long time. In the following weeks, we will touch on these topics of who is monitoring and what triggers a search.

There is a huge need for security, yet privacy is nearly extinct. We need to be proactive, not retroactively reacting after a privacy breach. There is not a giant undo button to make it all better after the fact. We need to join together, the knowledgeable and those who don't know much about privacy rights, before privacy is simply a word. If we don't, how much longer do you think America will be the Land of the Free?

Think about that and take a look at some of the incriminating words not to use in emails: bar*, cure, employ*, agreement*, draft*, repo*, repurchase, fed, risk*, expos*, *liquid* caution or concern or increase or toxic or outsized or significant, downgrade*, reduce*, write*, effect*, cash, sweep*, haircut, negotiate*, need*, strongly disagree, can't or cannot or shouldn't or should not or won't or will not w/5 discuss or "talk about" w/5 email, e-mail, or computer or should w/5 discuss or talk w/5 phone or "in person", cannot believe, serious trouble, big trouble, unsalvageable, shocked, speechless, too late, uncomfortable, not comfortable, I don't think we should, *sensitive, *confidential,  do not share this, don't share this, between you and me, just between us.

*Please note: DHS will not arrest you for using those search terms. DHS will increase monitoring U.S. citizens. The search terms on the examiner's report, pages 158 - 284, were used by attorneys investigating Lehman Brothers. They both have to do with privacy, and how out-of-control censorship has become these days. 

SUBSCRIBE! Get the best of CSO delivered to your email inbox.