EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently pitched a request for proposals from vendors capable of pulling large volumes of information from social media platforms. The proposal submission deadline is coming up very soon, at the end of August, reflecting the political willpower underlying the initiative.

The FBI intends to probe the aggregated data to inspect and monitor threats to homeland security. Officials want to pull “…the full social media profile of persons-of-interest and their affiliation to any organization or groups,” along with location information, and keyword searches, and other pieces of personal data.

Despite the exhaustive breadth of information that the agency aims to collect, the agency’s website pointedly states that the purpose of doing so is to“…mitigate multifaceted threats, while ensuring all privacy and civil liberties compliance requirements are met.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, privacy experts contend that this form of data harvesting could “be utilized in combination with outside data sources to build detailed profiles of users and [to] track their social lives.”

In January, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the FBI for social media monitoring and surveillance, and as of the current writing, the suit appears to be ongoing.

Beyond the privacy quagmire enveloping this new FBI initiative, practical execution may also present challenges.

In July, Facebook consented to a $5 billion settlement deal with the US Federal Trade Commission for inadequately safeguarding user privacy. Within the settlement, the company agreed to “Prevent mass data gathering without consent.” Now, the FBI wants to gather data, en masse, without consent. How can Facebook contend with competing government interests?

CyberTalk.org is waiting in suspense too, and we’ll update you as soon as more news is released. Get the broader picture from the Wall Street Journal.