Senate Intelligence Committee Forced To Drop 'Terrorist-Activity' Reporting Requirements For Social Media Platforms

from the play-nice-with-the-private-sector-or-the-NSA-has-to-work-for-free dept

Less than three months after announcing it was considering turning major social media platforms into unpaid government informants, the Senate Intelligence Committee is dropping its proposed requirement that Facebook, Twitter, etc. report “terrorist activity” to designated agencies.

Well, “dropping” is the polite phrasing. It’s actually been forced to give up this demand (by one of the more rational members of the SIC, Ron Wyden) to ensure it gets its intelligence funding bill passed. As Wyden points out, social media entities should be in the business of social media, not acting as under-equipped stand-ins for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

“Going after terrorist recruitment and activity online is a serious mission that demands a serous response from our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said in a statement, adding that he will now allow a vote on the intelligence bill. “Social media companies aren’t qualified to judge which posts amount to ‘terrorist activity,’ and they shouldn’t be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users’ speech.”

The government is rightfully concerned about the use of social media by terrorist groups, but the solution isn’t to deploy private companies as ad hoc intelligence operatives. A majority of major social platforms already police their networks for inappropriate content — which includes obvious terrorist-related postings — and report these to appropriate authorities. The half-assed directive proposed by Sen. Feinstein would have been, at best, redundant. It would have applied only to social media platforms that already policed their own networks for this content. It would not have forced new entrants into the market to comply with the reporting requirements.

Despite its apparent death, Senator Feinstein still believes the redundant/useless directive is still the right thing to do.

“Sen. Feinstein still believes it’s important to block terrorists’ use of social media to recruit and incite violence and will continue to work on achieving that goal,” Mentzer emphasized.

It should be noted that blocking is a far more severe action than removal and reporting. This wasn’t how the proposal was pitched (““a… low burden” to companies, who would have to report only activity that has been reported to them…). Feinstein’s post-defeat statements have exposed her ultimate goal for this directive: an attack on free speech disguised as a minimal burden, and one that once again would displace civil liberties to make room for more (national) security.

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Comments on “Senate Intelligence Committee Forced To Drop 'Terrorist-Activity' Reporting Requirements For Social Media Platforms”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Because the government’s idea of “national security” involves them being able to see and hear everything you do, and being able to punish you for anything they deem suspicious. Which would be bad enough, but as they need to demonstrate that they’re actually accomplishing something to keep their budget, they have a powerful incentive to be suspicious, and err on the side of “caution” when determining if something is a threat. Caution in the case being defined as the age old “assume it’s a threat” definition.

GEMont (profile) says:

Backing thinkward

I would think that terrorists using an open platform like Social Media for recruiting would totally delight the Spy Guys and their pet weasel… er… I meant Senator Weasel err…Feinstein of course.

After all, this would allow the CIAF BINSADOJ to simply pay a couple thousand college graduates, minimum wage, to sit in the 2305 basement internet scanning rooms of CIAF BINSADOJ HQ and read all the Twits and Tweets and then send all the “iffy” terrorist-like posts to the high-paid spooks on the 37 floors above.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why they want the terrorists to do their recruiting in secret.

Seems utterly counter productive…. unless of course they’re not really trying to “catch” terrorists at all and are just trying to get them to stop recruiting folks from outside of the US military.

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