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Homeland Security May Search the Internet for Terrorist Threats

The Internet has become the wild wild west and Homeland Security wants to be the sheriff. Can the agency pull that off? Is the universe small enough to police?

By Thomas Frank
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department may soon start scouring the Internet to find blogs and message boards that terrorists use to plan attacks in the USA.
The effort comes as researchers are seeing terrorists increasingly use the Internet to plan bombings, recruit members and spread propaganda. “Blogging and message boards have played a substantial role in allowing communication among those who would do the United States harm,” the department said in a recent notice.
Homeland Security officials are looking for companies to search the Internet for postings “in near to real-time which precede” an attack, particularly a bombing. Bombings are “of great concern” because terrorists can easily get materials and make an improvised-explosive device (IED), the department said.
“There is a lot of IED information generated by terrorists everywhere – websites, forums, people telling you where to buy fertilizer and how to plant IEDs,” said Hsinchun Chen, director of the University of Arizona’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Chen’s “Dark Web” research project has found 500,000,000 terrorist pages and postings, including tens of thousands that discuss IEDs.
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