The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in search of a contractor to build a database and dashboard to monitor hundreds of thousands of news organizations and journalists - and even to determine their “sentiment.”
An April 3 contract listing on a government-run federal business opportunities website seeks "media monitoring services" for the DHS. Already, at least seven companies have applied for the DHS contract. It is unclear how much the contract pays.
While "media monitoring services" may sound innocuous, details in a "Request for Information" (RFI) on the government website outline DHS's plan to build what some are calling a "panopticon."
"Services shall enable NPPD/OUS to monitor traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event," the RFI reads. "Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools and the ability to identify top media influencers."
The contract seeks applicants to complete five tasks: monitoring online activity and social media; creating a media intelligence and benchmarking dashboard platform; setting up an individualized email alert system; creating a password-protected mobile app for DHS personnel; and developing functionalities for engagement with the media. The RFI elaborates on each task.
The statement of work for the media monitoring services contract includes the requirement that its applicants are able to track more than 290,000 global news sources from media including online, print, broadcast, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources and social media. DHS also aims to be able to track such coverage in more than 100 languages and to have a function which can translate them immediately.