NLPC 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.
While the solicitation specifies a 12-month contract, it allows for seven one-year extensions. It specifies no dollar cap. Other troubling issues include:
- Extremely broad secrecy terms preventing the vendor from disclosing to the public or the media what information is being captured and archived (page 7, “Restriction Against Disclosure”)
- Wholesale capturing of comments by non-White House staff on publicly accessible sites
- Capturing of content of any type (text, graphics, audio, or video)
- Capturing of comments by both Obama critics and supporters, with no restriction as to how the White House would use the information.
Need I note that if the Bush Administration had tried this that heads would be exploding? On one level, it's scary and on another, it's creepy voyeurism.
I'd like to think this has to do with national security, but with an administration ready to publicly skewer the CIA, I think that's unlikely.