They’re Watching: Homeland Security Tracking Visitors Across Alternative News and Prepper Web Sites

Mac Slavo
March 21st, 2012
SHTFPlan.com

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

If there ever existed individuals and groups that threatened the status quo it’s now, and they can often be found congregating at alternative news web sites, forums and preparedness oriented online communities. Government officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have done everything in their power to marginalize their dangerous ideas and activities going so far as to even issue security bulletins to private businesses like banks, surplus stores, coffee shops and other retailers outlining what employees should look for and when to say something to law enforcement officials. Activities like putting a Ron Paul bumper sticker on your car, paying cash, buying gold, stocking up on food, promoting “anti-U.S.” and “radical theologies,” and demanding personal privacy are all now considered to be suspicious in the eyes of a government hell bent on destroying the Constitution.

While DHS has requisitioned the help of brick and mortar businesses in their efforts to identify persons-of-interest, they have realized that the best place to locate domestic threats to national security is the internet. As such, they have deployed a host of tools to not only monitor what is being posted online, but who is posting it, who their friends are, which sites they visit and what information they ‘like’ in particular.

recent report from well known survival author James Rawles suggests that Preparedness oriented web sites are a prime target of government snooping and sniffing. A web site like Rawles’ Survival Blog, or even our very own SHTFplan, undoubtedly meets all of the criteria outlined in the multitude of security bulletins issued by DHS and FBI, thus it would only make sense that these types of communities would be primary destinations for government monitoring. In the case of Survival Blog, Rawles reports that a recent analysis of his logs by web forensic experts yielded some startling results:

It has come to my attention that from August of 2011 to November of 2011, the FBI secretly redirected the web traffic of more than 10% of SurvivalBlog’s US visitors through CJIS, their sprawling data center situated on 900 acres, 10 miles from Clarksburg, West Virginia. There, the Feebees surreptitiously collected the IP addresses of my site visitors. In all, 4,906 of 35,494 selected connections ended up going to or through the FBI servers. (Note that this happened several months beforewe moved our primary server to Sweden.) Furthermore, we discovered that the FBI attached a long-lived cookie that allowed them to track the sites that readers subsequently visited. I suspect that the FBI has done the same to hundreds of other web sites. I find this situation totally abhorrent, and contrary to the letter of 4th Amendment as well as the intent of our Founding Fathers.

I recognize that I am making this announcement at the risk of losing some readers.So be it. But I felt compelled to tell my readers immediately, because it was the honorable and forthright course of action.

Working on my behalf, some volunteer web forensics experts dissected some cached version histories. (Just about everything is available on the Internet, and the footprints and cookie crumb trails that you leave are essentially there for a lifetime.) The volunteers found that the bulk of the FBI redirects were selected because of a reader’s association with “Intellectual Property” infringing sites like the now defunct Megaupload.  But once redirected, you were assigned a cookie.  However, some of these were direct connections to the SurvivalBlog site (around 4% of the total.) So if they had kept this practice up long enough and if you visited us enough times then the FBI’s computers would have given you a cookie. This has been verified with sniffer software.

Most alarming about this is that according to James Rawles’ analysis, users’ browsers were first redirected to an FBI server, then forced to download a cookie via their browser, and were then redirected back to his web site – the entire process unbeknownst to the end user because it happens almost instantly. Because the cookie isn’t removed unless you clear it from your browser (you can easily remove cookies manually) every web site subsequently visited by the user would then be logged by an FBI computer in real-time.

You can be assured that if the FBI is engaging in this type of surveillance, Survival Blog and other preparedness web sites aren’t alone. Chances are that, as Rawles mentions, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of web sites being tracked and monitored in similar fashion. A report from the Intel Hub confirms our suspicions, as do our own visitor logs, and we’d venture to guess that most other web sites in the alternative news sphere will see similar access logs.

Read More AT SHTFPlan.com

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