Home How To... Which words to avoid using online if you don’t want Homeland Security...

Which words to avoid using online if you don’t want Homeland Security spying on you

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats.

The government uses a number of different techniques to determine potential threats to the country, and create different methods to detect and act on ones that seem the most serious. In some cases, the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security must develop programs in order to intercept individuals or organization. However, they also must be very careful in order to avoid crossing national and international laws, like the controversial NSA surveillance program, PRISM. The clandestine mass electronic surveillance program has been in the middle of an ethical debate regarding personal privacy laws, but has already endangered individual rights, American business privacy and American interest abroad. Hopefully, this time, DHS monitoring will not repeat the same mistakes.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as “attack”, “Al Qaeda”, “terrorism” and “dirty bomb” alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like “pork”, “cloud”, “team” and “Mexico”.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The words are included in the DHS’s 2011 “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities”.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organizations for comments that “reflect adversely” on the government.

However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.

As well as terrorism, analysts are instructed to search for evidence of unfolding natural disasters, public health threats and serious crimes such as mall/school shootings, major drug busts, illegal immigrant busts.

The list has been posted online by the Electronic Privacy Information Center – a privacy watchdog group who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act before suing to obtain the release of the documents.

In a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, the centre described the choice of words as “broad, vague and ambiguous”.

They point out that it includes “vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters”.

A senior Homeland Security official told the Huffington Post that the manual “is a starting point, not the endgame” in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats and denied that the government was monitoring signs of dissent.

However, DHS admitted that the language used was vague and in need of updating.

Spokesman Matthew Chandler told website: “To ensure clarity, as part of … routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program.”

US Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats

US Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats

Domestic Security

AssassinationAttackDomestic securityDrillExerciseCopsLaw enforcementAuthoritiesDisaster assistanceDisaster managementDNDO (Domestic NuclearDetection Office)National preparednessMitigationPreventionResponseRecoveryDirty bombDomestic nuclear detectionEmergency managementEmergency responseFirst responderHomeland securityMaritime domain awareness(MDA)National preparednessinitiativeMilitiaShootingShots firedEvacuationDeathsHostageExplosion (explosive)PoliceDisaster medical assistanceteam (DMAT)Organized crimeGangsNational securityState of emergencySecurityBreachThreatStandoff SWATScreeningLockdownBomb (squad or threat)CrashLootingRiotEmergency LandingPipe bombIncidentFacility

HAZMAT & Nuclear

HazmatNuclearChemical spillSuspicious package/deviceToxicNational laboratoryNuclear facilityNuclear threatCloudPlumeRadiationRadioactiveLeak Biological infection (orevent)ChemicalChemical burnBiologicalEpidemicHazardousHazardous material incidentIndustrial spillInfectionPowder (white)GasSpilloverAnthraxBlister agentChemical agentExposureBurnNerve agentRicinSarinNorth Korea

Health Concern + H1N1

Outbreak ContaminationExposureVirusEvacuationBacteriaRecallEbolaFood PoisoningFoot and Mouth (FMD)H5N1AvianFluSalmonellaSmall PoxPlagueHuman to humanHuman to AnimalInfluenzaCenter for Disease Control(CDC)Drug Administration (FDA)Public HealthToxicAgro TerrorTuberculosis (TB)AgricultureListeriaSymptomsMutationResistantAntiviralWavePandemicInfectionWater/air borneSick SwinePork StrainQuarantineH1N1VaccineTamifluNorvo VirusEpidemicWorld Health Organization(WHO) (and components)Viral Hemorrhagic FeverE. Coli

Infrastructure Security

Infrastructure securityAirportAirplane (and derivatives)Chemical fireCIKR (Critical Infrastructure& Key Resources)AMTRAKCollapseComputer infrastructureCommunicationsinfrastructureTelecommunicationsCritical infrastructureNational infrastructureMetroWMATASubwayBARTMARTAPort AuthorityNBIC (NationalBiosurveillance IntegrationCenter)Transportation securityGridPowerSmartBody scannerElectricFailure or outageBlack outBrown outPortDock BridgeCancelledDelaysService disruptionPower lines

Southwest Border Violence

DrugcartelViolenceGangDrugNarcoticsCocaineMarijuanaHeroinBorderMexicoCartelSouthwestJuarezSinaloaTijuanaTorreonYumaTucsonDecapitatedU.S. ConsulateConsularEl PasoFort Hancock San DiegoCiudad JuarezNogalesSonoraColombiaMara salvatruchaMS13 or MS-13Drug warMexican armyMethamphetamineCartel de GolfoGulf CartelLa FamiliaReynosaNuevo LeonNarcosNarco banners (Spanishequivalents)Los ZetasShootoutExecutionGunfightTraffickingKidnapCalderonReyosaBustTamaulipasMeth LabDrug tradeIllegal immigrantsSmuggling (smugglers)MatamorosMichoacanaGuzmanArellano-FelixBeltran-LeyvaBarrio AztecaArtistic AssassinsMexiclesNew Federation


TerrorismAl Qaeda (all spellings)TerrorAttack IraqAfghanistanIranPakistanAgroEnvironmental terroristEco terrorismConventional weaponTargetWeapons gradeDirty bombEnrichedNuclearChemical weaponBiological weaponAmmonium nitrateImprovised explosive deviceIED (Improvised ExplosiveDevice)Abu Sayyaf HamasFARC (Armed RevolutionaryForces Colombia)IRA (Irish Republican Army)ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)Basque SeparatistsHezbollahTamil TigersPLF (Palestine LiberationFront)PLO (Palestine LiberationOrganizationCar bombJihadTalibanWeapons cacheSuicide bomberSuicide attack Suspicious substanceAQAP (AL Qaeda ArabianPeninsula)AQIM (Al Qaeda in theIslamic Maghreb)TTP (Tehrik-i-TalibanPakistan)YemenPiratesExtremismSomaliaNigeriaRadicalsAl-ShabaabHome grownPlotNationalistRecruitmentFundamentalismIslamist


EmergencyHurricaneTornadoTwisterTsunamiEarthquakeTremorFloodStormCrestTemblorExtreme weatherForest fireBrush fireIceStranded/Stuck HelpHailWildfireTsunami Warning CenterMagnitudeAvalancheTyphoonShelter-in-placeDisasterSnowBlizzardSleetMud slide or MudslideErosionPower outageBrown outWarningWatchLighteningAidRelief ClosureInterstateBurstEmergency Broadcast System

Cyber Security

Cyber securityBotnetDDOS (dedicated denial of service)Denial of serviceMalwareVirusTrojanKeyloggerCyber Command2600SpammerPhishingRootkitPhreakingCain and abelBrute forcingMysql injectionCyber attack Cyber terrorHackerChinaConfickerWormScammersSocial media