Fort Bend County says ‘No’ to Social media monitoring software
County Judge Bob Hebert has terminated consideration of the acquisition of Social Media Intelligence Gathering Software for emergency management purposes originally presented on the May 7, 2013 Commissioners Court Agenda.
The purchase of the SwiftRiver-2011 software is a regional project coordinated by the Houston Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) of which Fort Bend County is a part. The software uses ‘trend monitoring’ of alert words (key words) across multiple online channels; including social media, photo sharing sites, and traditional online news sources, to gather ‘real-time’ open source information in emergency situations.
Fort Bend County was to purchase the software for the Houston region in order to enhance response capabilities in emergency situations utilizing the information gathered from these public sources. Due to the rapidly approaching deadline for the depletion of grant funding for this software, the time needed to research questions about the ability of the software to be used for malicious purpose is not available.
Judge Hebert commented, “While I believe this software is safe, given the current federal government disclosures of their waiver of personal privacy rights in digital communications and the lack of sufficient time to investigate the uncertainties regarding possible future modifications of this software, I have decided to pull this request from the June 11 agenda which effectively terminates Fort Bend County’s consideration of the matter due to established grant deadlines applicable to the purchase.”
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