Biden Regime Poised to Use Private ‘Research Firms’ to Surveil American Citizens Online

The Biden administration is reportedly planning to revive an Obama-era surveillance work-around that will allow the government to spy on American citizens (under the pretense of “tracking extremist chatter” online).  Because privacy laws prevent the Department of Homeland Security from infiltrating private chat groups of political adversaries, DHS is considering a plan to use outside entities to legally access private groups on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, according to CNN.

This wouldn’t be the first time a Democrat administration has used outside actors to target political adversaries.

The Obama administration infamously used intelligence gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele—who was working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS—to obtain surveillance warrants on Donald Trump in 2016.

CNN’s DHS sources claim that any intelligence the Biden regime gathers through this type of surveillance would only consist of “broad summaries or analysis of narratives that are emerging” on social media sites like Parler and Telegram, and would not be used to target specific individuals. However, if the intelligence gathered shows “enough evidence of a potential crime,” the FBI would  get involved, targeting specific individuals for further investigation.

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.

The problem with the plan, according to CNN, is that the effort would involve “empowering” a DHS unit that became a scourge of the left last summer during the Portland riots.

At issue are the intelligence reports the unit collected on alleged “journalists” and the unmasking of antifa miltants who were behind the nightly violence and destruction.

Antifa’s sympathizers on the Hill, and in the Biden administration are now grappling with “how to address mistakes made during the Trump administration” in order to target “domestic extremists” correctly.

“There’s a tension between wanting to empower [DHS’s intelligence office] to do this kind of work around domestic terrorism on the one hand and then on the other hand the misuse of its capabilities during the summer of 2020, gives a lot of people on the Hill pause {when it comes to} potentially giving them new authorities, capabilities or resources,” a Senate aide told CNN.

DHS officials are exploring ways to enhance the department’s information gathering within the bounds of its current authorities, multiple sources told CNN. The department is coordinating with the National Security Council and FBI as part of the effort, sources added.

“There was only limited awareness before January 6 of what violent extremists were planning through social media,” said Tom Warrick, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who served as DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism Policy from 2008 until 2019 and has decades of experience as a career government official at agencies including the State Department.
Warrick added he would expect DHS to “explore whether contractors could help them understand plots and trends” emerging online.

“Whatever gets approved and implemented has to comply with established laws,” he said, noting that DHS can only use overt methods to gather information from social media or collect information that is publicly available.

Researchers who already monitor such activity online could act as middlemen to obtain the information. DHS officials maintain the materials provided would only consist of broad summaries or analysis of narratives that are emerging on these sites and would not be used to target specific individuals.

DHS reportedly plans to use foreign “research firms and non-profit groups” that use fake identities to infiltrate private social media groups used by alleged “domestic extremists,” purportedly to get “a better sense of ‘narratives’ that might lead to violence as they emerge.”

The Biden administration wants to stay ahead of “emerging narratives” on the right because by the time the narratives appear on Facebook, “it is usually too late,” a DHS official told CNN.

“Domestic violent extremists are really adaptive and innovative. We see them not only moving to encrypted platforms, but obviously couching their language so they don’t trigger any kind of red flag on any platforms,” the official added. “We are exploring with our lawyers, civil rights, civil liberties and privacy colleagues, how we can make use of outside expertise.”

Conservative reactions on Twitter to CNN’s report below:

 

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

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