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Flaherty Warns of White House Plan to Mine Social Network Data

On September 17, 2009, NLPC President Peter Flaherty is interviewed as part of a CNN report by Ines Ferre on Lou Dobbs Tonight. Flaherty warns of a White House New Media office plan to harvest data from social networking websites. NLPC exposed the plan on August 31, 2009. Click here to download a 2-page pdf transcript.

White House Plan to Mine Social Networks is Dangerous Because of Scope, Secrecy and Context

Facebook logoWe are happy that our August 31 report on the White House New Media operation to harvest data from social network websites is finally getting some attention. We unearthed the fact that this office is seeking a vendor capable of conducting a massive data harvesting operation, prompting concerns that the White House is seeking to identify friends and enemies.

When we posted our story, we received so many hits that it took down our server and forced us to move to a more powerful machine, but we received scant print and electronic media coverage. Today, the Washington Times covered the story on its front page, above the fold. Drudge and Lucianne linked to the story, giving it high visibility.

CNN 'Expert' Lamely Claims to 'Debunk' NLPC on White House Data Harvesting on Social Networks

Gewirtz photoDavid Gewirtz, who contributes to Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN, claims to “debunk” our story about White House New Media office plans to collect data from social networking websites.

Our story was based on a document called a “Request for Quote.” Of the document, Gewirtz states, “It’s a publicly available government procurement document, and just for you, I’ve read all 51 excruciatingly boring pages of the thing.”

Maybe too boring for Gewirtz, as he must have skimmed over this section that appears on page three under “Performance Objectives:”

(K) Provide a web-based tool for government employees to administer and manage this record keeping. (i.e. add new publicly accessible websites to the crawl or adjust the crawl frequency.) Provide a minimum of 10 simultaneous login accounts.

In other words, the administration wants the ability to have at least 10 government workers simultaneously adding new web sites to a crawl program, or adjusting the crawl frequency on web sites being crawled. This would allow a massive data mining operation. Our characterizations of this operation are not exaggerated.

Obama White House Has Secret Plan To Harvest Personal Data From Social Networking Websites

White House photoNLPC has uncovered a plan by the White House New Media operation to hire a technology vendor to conduct a massive, secret effort to harvest personal information on millions of Americans from social networking websites.

The information to be captured includes comments, tag lines, emails, audio, and video. The targeted sites include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and others – any space where the White House “maintains a presence.”

In the course of investigating procurement by the White House New Media office, NLPC discovered a 51-page solicitation of bids that was filed on Friday, August 21, 2009. Filed as Solicitation # WHO-S-09-0003, it is posted at FedBizzOps.com. Click here to download a 51-page pdf of the solicitation.

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