Some see this as simply a way to comply with the Presidential Records Act, others remember the who “fishy” incident and see this as a new Big Brother Obama attempt to collect information on individual citizens.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has discovered a secret White House project to harvest personal date from social networking websites like facebook and twitter.
The White House office of New Media has sent out a request for proposals from technology vendors to develop and run the project. According to the proposal request, the information to be captured includes comments, tag lines, emails, audio, and video. The targeted sites include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and others – any space where the White House “maintains a presence.” The Proposal requests a bid covers allowing this project to last eight years. MMMM what else does the Obama administration want to last eight years.
Filed as Solicitation # WHO-S-09-0003, the proposal request is posted  at FedBizzOps.com. Click here to download a 51-page pdf of the solicitation .
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In all fairness if you read the PDF of the solicitation, it speaks of the project as a way to to comply with the Presidential Records Act. But then there are the frightening parts especially for this administration which promises to be the most transparent in history. The disturbing parts of the proposal include:
- Extremely broad secrecy terms preventing the vendor from disclosing to the public or the media what information is being captured and archived (page 7, “Restriction Against Disclosure”)
- wholesale capturing of comments by non-White House staff on publicly accessible sites
- capturing of content of any type (text, graphics, audio, or video)
- capturing of comment by both Obama critics and supporters, with no restriction as to how the White House would use the information.
Maybe its just paranoia but this revelation comes right after the “spy on your neighbor” email program, and the David Axelrod spam from the White House problem. It just seems that when a President whose campaign was so good at understanding new media, keeps trying to break every internet “privacy rights social protocol,” it can’t be that they don’t understand what they are doing. And when they direct the vendor to keep it secret from the electorate, the objective must be more nefarious than the Presidential Records Act.
Now the same people at the White House are at it again with an ambitious plan to harvest huge amounts of information from the web and specifically social networking sites. This presidency is willing to violate our civil liberties for political purposes.
Even the NLPC is a bit suspicious
The Presidential Records Act does not require the storage or archiving of non-EOP content, as such is there a specific reason as to why the content provided on EOP related websites in the form of comments is included in these archiving procedures?
Answer: The PRA includes in its definition of presidential records content ―received by PRA components and personnel. Out of an abundance of caution, we are treating comments made by non-PRA personnel on sites on which a PRA component has a presence as presidential records, requiring them to be captured or sampled. Of course, this interpretation of the Presidential Records Act is so expansive that virtually any communication mentioning the president or the Administration could become subject to collection and archiving under the Act. This is not out of an “abundance of caution,” but out of an over-abundance of power. President Obama should make sure that this plan goes no further.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey of Hot Air Thinks this program is totally benign. He says that the language about keeping it secret from the public is standard boilerplate for all government RFPS (he used to work for a government Contractor) maybe he is right, here is his take