What could possibly go wrong?
In today’s installment of “I’m Not Terrified, You Are,” Bloomberg Law reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.”
The details of the attached Request for Information, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.
And “attack” is not hyperbolic.
Every day, journalists face serious consequences including physical violence, imprisonment and death. A few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched its annual Free The Press campaign to raise awareness about imprisoned journalists throughout the world. On May 3, UNESCO will once again mark World Press Freedom Day “to inform citizens of violations of press freedom — a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.”
Meanwhile, the United States government, traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom, is about to compile a list of professional journalists and “top media influencers,” which would seem to include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor what they’re putting out to the public.