Press Release


Homeland Security Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on DHS Monitoring of Social Media — TOMORROW

Washington, D.C. – The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), will hold a hearing entitled “DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy” tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Room 311 Cannon House Office Building.

Since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security has been involved in programs to gather public information on breaking news or evolving events via social media.  DHS’s use of social media seeks to gather information from traditional media sources, as well as social networking and media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, to help DHS provide situational awareness and establish a more comprehensive operating picture.

At this hearing, the Subcommittee will examine DHS’s social media monitoring initiative and how DHS balances its role of securing the homeland from terror attack with its responsibility to protect First Amendment freedoms.

Meehan said: “With nearly one billion Facebook users and hundreds of millions of Twitter postings every day, social media can provide crucial real-time information for identifying threats, trends and breaking events.  This week’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee hearing, “Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy,” will examine the Department of Homeland Security’s new initiative aimed at monitoring media and social networking services to help deter, detect, and prevent terror attacks, and to manage natural disasters and other domestic incidents.  Social networking and media have increasingly been a crucial source of intelligence collection for the counterterrorism and Intelligence Community, but there are also privacy and civil liberties concerns implicit in this activity which this hearing will address.”

In December, Subcommittee Chairman Meehan and Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) sent a letter to the DHS Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis raising concerns about DHS’s monitoring of social media and inquiring about the progress DHS has made in developing guidelines for the collection of open source intelligence via the Internet, including social media.

What:                Subcommittee Hearing on “DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media:                                       Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy”

When:                 10 a.m., Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where:                311 Cannon House Office Building

                            **Live video feed will be available HERE

Opening statements, witness testimony, and the live video feed will be available online HERE

Witness List:

Ms. Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security

Mr. Richard Chávez, Director, Office of Operations Coordination and Planning, Department of Homeland Security