We know that the U.S. government has been secretly monitoring data on the Internet, allegedly for the purpose of scanning for threats to national security. But now thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we also know exactly which keywords and phrases the government has been flagging, reports the Daily Mail.
Many of the words on the recently released list are predictable, such as "Al Qaeda," "dirty bomb" or "assassination," but some are more ambiguous — words you might find yourself using in a variety of benign contexts. For instance, typing innocent words like "pork," "El Paso," "cloud," "wave" or "smart" — among with many others — on your Facebook or Twitter profiles might get you flagged for monitoring.
The Department of Homeland Security released the list following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The list was contained in the department's 2011 "Analyst's Desktop Binder," which instructs workers at the National Operations Center on how to identify potential threats "that reflect adversely" on the department and the government at large.
That wording could be sensitive to those who have concerns about violations to their First Amendment rights. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the privacy watchdog group that filed the Freedom of Information Act request, the list appears to include "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."
Government officials insisted that the intent of the list is strictly to identify potential threats to national security, not to police the Internet for derogatory speech or general dissent directed at the government. Even so, with a list as broad as this one, it's easy to see how such lines could get blurred.
Here's the full list of words you'll want to avoid:
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