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Newsweek Reports: Department of Homeland Security Top Web Picks!

Posted on February 16 2010 9:25 am
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The Department of Homeland Security recently released a memo entitled, “Privacy Impact Assessments” listing some of the agency’s favorite tip-worthy web sites in case of an emergency, Mark Hosenball of Newsweek reports.  Call it the DHS Blogroll, if you will.

It is no surprise that a government entity would harness this technology and gather information from online sources.  What might be surprising are some of the web sites listed for, say, Haiti intervention:

Social Approach
Google Blog Search
Foreign Policy Passport
Danger Room
Threat Level
NEFA Foundation
Counter-Terrorism Blog
Homeland Security Today
LA Now
NYTimes Lede Blog
Drudge Report
Huffington Post
Informed Comment
LA Wildfires Blog
Homeland Security Watch
Joe Cirincione’s nuclear issues blog
Borderfire Report
Homeland Security Watch
ABCNews Blotter

Given the impact twitter had on the recent Iranian election protests, utilizing such an inconsequential-sounding site is quite logical.  Even recently, according to USA Today, the Haitian government gleaned information from the social networking site to aid in rescue efforts.  Still, Hosenball questions the relevancy of certain sites in relation to Haiti and the Vancouver Olympics, while also wondering why others aren’t included:

Missing from the list, however, are other potentially useful sites from various parts of the political and ideological spectrum including neo-Nazi and pro-Gun sites.

Perhaps the DHS is still smarting from the whole Right-Wing Extremism Report debacle?

While the DHS list is extensive, it is not exhaustive.  In an addendum provided by Newsweek, a DHS spokesperson explains:

After this item was first posted, Amy Kudwa, a spokesperson for Homeland Security, called us to advise that website lists published by the Department were “illustrative but not comprehensive,” and that they represent a list of sites which, in the experience of the department’s operational personnel, historically have contained information which has helped the department develop its situational awareness in the wake of a major incident.

Our government necessarily must use tools and information available, while still preserving our privacy rights.  Given the current technological landscape and related threats, this is a fine line to walk in any case, under any administration.  What can we do but keep our noses clean and our eyes wide open?

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