Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’)



  • Department of Homeland Security forced to release list following freedom of information request
  • Agency insists it only looks for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. and not for signs of general dissent
By Daniel Miller
Posted:  May 26th, 2012

The 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 against the U.S.

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 department’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 organisations 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’.

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  1. So the Dpmeratnet of Hemlnaod Srucetiy is wcatihng sicoal nowrektnig seits linokog for cteiran wrdos. If one uses the cercort ltetres with the fsirt and lsat lrettes poprlery ptosinoied, the barin will furige out all the wdros.

  2. I'm sure I'm on more than one government list just by virtue of being a conservative. But seriously, we should try to use as many of these words as possible as many places as possible to overwhelm the system. I guess I am going to have to OCR the full list and include it at the bottom of every email I send. At least we can have a little fun with it until the Department of Homeland Security jackboots show up at my door to take me off to re-education camp.

  3. It’s good that Department of Homeland Security uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for threats. But I don’t think so that terrorists talk simple and use simple words during their conversation. As we know we can transfer one form of data to another form by using any OCR. It is possible that Terrorist use different techniques too