White House Snitching 1.0
Since it was mentioned in the last HDR, here’s a little primer on the White House snitch site that was launched in 2009. From crack researcher Carl:
If you have received what for you might be an ‘unusual’ communication with the IRS, like a letter for something you never have been flagged for, it may be worth contacting your Congressman or Republican official in Washington.
Regular people are asking questions about Obama’s use of a snitch line back in 2010 to rat out people that expressed opposition. Mostly to Obamacare. But now one cannot be so certain.
Call For Informants: If You Oppose Obamacare, Even in ‘Casual Conversation,’ the White House Wants to Know About It
If you see anybody publicly opposing President Obama’s plan to implement a government-centric overhaul of the health care system, the White House wants you to report that person (or persons) ASAP. From the White House website: There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below | Read More »
White House Disables Snitch Line
Following a furor over how the data would be used, the White House has shut down an electronic tip box — firstname.lastname@example.org — that was set up to receive information on “fishy” claims about President Barack Obama’s health plan.
E-mails to that address now bounce back with the message: “The e-mail address you just sent a message to is no longer in service. We are now accepting your feedback about health insurance reform via http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck.”
The “flag” service was introduced Aug. 4, with a White House blog post saying: “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at a briefing shortly after the service launched: “We’re not collecting names from those e-mails. … All we’re asking people to do is if they’re confused about what health care reform is going to mean to them, we’re happy to help clear that up for you. Nobody is keeping anybody’s names.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote a letter to Obama raising privacy concerns about what the senator called an “Obama monitoring program.”
“I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward e-mails critical of his policies to the White House,” Cornyn wrote. “So I urge you to cease this program immediately.”
In a later statement, Cornyn said: “Of course the White House is collecting names. … It is inevitable. Anyone with access to the firstname.lastname@example.org account has access to the names and email addresses that are collected in that account. … How are they purging names and e-mail addresses from this account to protect privacy?”
White House Folds “Flag@Whitehouse.gov,” Makes Security Changes, After Internet Flaps – ABC News
Sunlen Miller and Jake Tapper report:
In a tacit acknowledgment of some new media missteps, the White House made changes to its White House’s “Reality Check” website this week after anger that some people were receiving unsolicited emails generated from the White House, and suggestions from a Republican senator that the White House was using an email address to compile a list of political opponents.
White House Director of Media Macon Phillips writes in a blog post that the irony is that the website, which tried to clear up misinformation caused by “fear-mongering” has now become the subject of the same beast.
“An ironic development is that the launch of an online program meant to provide facts about health insurance reform has itself become the target of fear-mongering and online rumors that are the tactics of choice for the defenders of the status quo,” Phillips writes.
Macon says that it has come to his attention that some people may have been added to the White House email list without their knowledge, “likely as a result of efforts by outside groups of all political stripes” and that they regret any inconvenience it has caused.