ICYMI, on Friday the Department of Homeland Security put out an ad seeking a contract firm that could monitor over 200,000 journalists and people who post on public media.
Yes, that's right, DHS wants to create a list of journalists, and bloggers, and others, who make public comments. On what topics? Who knows!
The details of the attached Request for Information, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.
And "attack" is not hyperbolic.
Every day, journalists face serious consequences including physical violence, imprisonment and death. A few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched its annual Free The Press campaign to raise awareness about imprisoned journalists throughout the world. On May 3, UNESCO will once again mark World Press Freedom Day "to inform citizens of violations of press freedom — a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered."
Meanwhile, the United States government, traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom, is about to compile a list of professional journalists and "top media influencers," which would seem to include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor what they're putting out to the public.
What could possibly go wrong? A lot
And on CBS:
The work request from DHS seeks a firm that has the ability to monitor up to 290,000 global news sources; ability to track media coverage in up to 100 languages and the ability to "track online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media."
The work request also seeks the ability to build lists of journalists based on beat, location, outlet type/size and journalist role. Creating an online "media influence database" is also included.
DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton tweeted that "despite what some reporters may suggest," this is "standard."
No. This is not 'standard.' It is a direct threat to both freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It would mean that none of us could speak our minds in a public venue without threat of retaliation. At this moment in time, it feels like a threat to Democrats and liberals, and that may cause Republicans and conservatives to chuckle. But you all know that once such a project is in place it will will be there for use by future administrations who may have a beef with the GOP, Libertarians, or Green Party members.
This is NOT standard. It is NOT normal. It is a threat, a real threat to our Bill of Rights. And it needs to be stopped.
Here's a link to the DHS 'job' opening: