Post by dane101 on 6/9/2011
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Dane101 has learned through a direct, anonymous source that a state emergency response team has been operating out of the GEF-2 (101 S. Webster St.) building downtown specifically to monitor protest related activity on social media sites and elsewhere.
The team is allegedly coordinating with law enforcement to identify and shut down any major direct actions planned by protesters at the capitol, by watching things like the #wiunion hashtag on Twitter and related Facebook groups, etc.
The team is apparently preparing for more major actions next week, which they believe will be big as the state budget goes to the floors of the Senate and Assembly for final votes.
An important question that arises from this revelation is whether or not the information being looked for by the team is then being collected (i.e. spying) in a more central database.
Early last year documents uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through an open records request from the Federal Government revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had “conducted a threat assessment of local pro- and anti-abortion activists” including Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin. According to the ACLU Madison:
“Without probable cause that a crime is being committed or is about to be committed, police or the federal government don’t have the right to snoop on activists,” says Stacy Harbaugh, the community advocate of the Madison-area office of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Having the feds investigate organizations on both sides of the abortion debate doesn’t make us all safer: it simply victimizes more individuals’ freedom and privacy rights.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the Defense Department has uncovered “hundreds of reports of possibly illegal intelligence activities,” the group says.
Further examples of this activity are listed in the link above. There is currently no evidence to connect the emergency response team’s social media suveillance with these programs, but little information yet exists on what all they are doing.
More information on this as it becomes available.