We’re Watching For Your Safety

Or something like that. Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

A consortium of major universities, using Homeland Security Department money, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

Such a “sentiment analysis” is intended to identify potential threats to the nation, security officials said.

[…] “We want to understand the rhetoric that is being published and how intense it is, such as the difference between dislike and excoriate,” [program coordinator Joel Kielman] said.

Even the basic research has raised concern among journalism advocates and privacy groups, as well as representatives of the foreign news media.

“It is just creepy and Orwellian,” said Lucy Dalglish, a lawyer and former editor who is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

With its retrospective testing, it will be interesting to see what the software tells us about the “dangers” of the Administration’s posturing on Iraqi WMDs.