Our Very First Department of Homeland Security Creative Writing Contest

Periodically people publish news articles, write blog posts, or tweet about the Department of Homeland Security’s social media monitoring program. It’s encouraging to see people spreading awareness of DHS’s media monitoring, and this awareness becomes all the more important in light of cyber-surveillance legislation like CISPA (see <https://www.occupyboston.org/2012/05/30/take-actio-on-cispa-hr-3523/>). So, in the spirit of raising awareness, we’re holding our very first Department of Homeland Security Creative Writing Contest.

Got your interest? Excellent! Here’s how to get involved:

  • Download a copy of the DHS National Operations Center Media Monitoring Capability Desktop Reference Binder: <http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/Analyst-Desktop-Binder-REDACTED.pdf>. This is a DHS document (obtained via FOIA request) that describes the Department’s media monitoring program. You don’t have to read the whole thing [1], but you will need the list of keywords on pages 20–23.
  • Write something short (somewhere between the length of a tweet and a the length of a Facebook post) that (a) uses as many keywords as possible, and (b) has absolutely nothing to do with homeland security.
  • Email your writing to obnoxious@occupyboston.org by June 26th, with the letters “DHS” in the subject line. (Optionally, include a note saying how you’d like to have your work attributed.)

Sometime after June 26th, we’ll publish a compilation of all submissions, and we’ll feature a few of them in an upcoming blog post.

To get the ball rolling, here are some examples of what you could send in.

The extreme weather at last night’s GA really sucked. There was lightning and
hail.  It was like standing out in a hurricane.

This example (which I’m sure many Occupiers can relate to) uses the DHS keywords “extreme weather”, “lightning”, “hail”, and “hurricane”.

A second example:

I must have eaten something bad. I jumped on the toilet, and let loose a pile of toxic waste. It smelled really noxious and came out with a plume. It was pretty sick.

This specimen uses four keywords: “toxic”, “plume”, “noxious” and “sick”.

A third and final example:

I accidentally shorted a power line to the serial port of my computer. My system went up in a cloud of electric smoke. That wasn’t a smart move.

Our third example uses a total of five keywords: “power”, “port”, “cloud”, “electric” and “smart”.

Got the idea? Awesome! Have fun, be creative, and send those submissions to obnoxious@occupyboston.org.


[1] Of course, you’re perfectly welcome to read the whole thing, if you want to.