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May 03, 2021

Biden Considers Evading Limits on Surveilling Citizens By Farming Spying Operations Out to Third Parties Who Are Less Regulated

Say, weren't all the NeverTrumpers endlessly screeching about the "authoritarian" tendencies of Trump?

Suggesting that that was a bad thing?

And yet they continue to be silent about Biden's full weaponization of government against the citizenry.

The Biden administration is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online, an effort that would expand the government's ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over surveillance of US citizens.

The Department of Homeland Security is limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers.

Instead, federal authorities can only browse through unprotected information on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and other open online platforms.

The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent those limits. A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge.

By partnering with research firms who have more visibility in this space, the DHS could produce information that would likely be beneficial to both it and the FBI, which can't monitor US citizens in this way without first getting a warrant or having the pretext of an ongoing investigation. The CIA and NSA are also limited on collecting intelligence domestically.

It would, however, involve empowering a unit at DHS that is already under fierce scrutiny for its bungled handling of the Portland riots last summer, an episode that included collecting intelligence reports on journalists and unmasking private citizens, according to a source familiar with a recent internal report on the matter.

...

Outsourcing some information gathering to outside firms would give DHS the benefit of tactics that it isn't legally able to do in-house, such as using false personas to gain access to private groups used by suspected extremists, sources say.

I'm speculating here, but I would imagine that what's happened is that the left sued about these tactics being used against them, so the government signed a consent decree confessing these tactics are illegal.

But now the left's victory hurts Biden's ability to get The Real Terrorists, and they can't have that -- the left should be protected from surveillance, they think. The right should not be.

So here we go, keeping the ban in place for the left but seeking to evade it when it comes to spying in the right.

This is straight up a political oppression operation -- they admit they're not looking for crimes, but for "narratives of concern."

If they find someone pushing a "narrative of concern," they will then throw millions of dollars of investigation at that person, searching for a crime:

FBI director Christopher Wray has been emphatic during recent public testimony that the bureau does not investigate ideologies or even conspiracy theories in and of themselves, but restricts its social media monitoring to cases where they believe a crime, or potential crime, was committed.

But if the DHS could help provide a broad picture of who was perpetuating the "narratives" of concern, the FBI could theoretically use that pool of information to focus on specific individuals if there is enough evidence of a potential crime to legally do so, the source added, noting the two agencies are working closely with one another in this area.




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posted by Ace at 12:14 PM

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