Big Brother logs on

A consortium of major universities, using Homeland Security Department money, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.Such a “sentiment analysis” is intended to identify potential threats to the nation, security officials said…The new software would allow much more rapid and comprehensive monitoring of the global news media, as the Homeland Security Department and, perhaps, intelligence agencies look “to identify common patterns from numerous sources of information which might be indicative of potential threats to the nation,” a statement by the department said.

Read Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S. (free subscription req’d) from the New York Times.

“Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending,” said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty International. “We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.”

Read Free speech online ‘under threat’ from the BBC Technology News

Upset by the war in Iraq, Julia Wilson vented her frustrations with President Bush last spring on her web page on MySpace.com. She posted a picture of the president, scrawled “Kill Bush” across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. She later replaced her page on the social-networking site after learning in her eighth-grade history class that such threats are a federal offense. It was too late.

Read It’s Big Brother’s Space, Too from WIRED and Internet pushes schools to confront First Amendment issues from ZDNet’s education blog

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Filed under Anonymity, Privacy, Social Media, The Politics of New Media, Virtual Communities

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