In a report
released in January, 2013, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated its goals for suspicious activity reporting for the winter 2013 season. The report stated that all previous reports on the subject are still important and reports should continue to be submitted by law enforcement on previously mentioned issues, but outlined several "suspicious activities" that the DHS believes are specifically important this season, all of which are listed below.
Reports of threats to religious or cultural facilities
- Reports of surveillance; verbal or telephonic threats of violence; trespassing; property damage, including vandalism or arson; or tests of security at religious or cultural facilities.
Reports of suspicious activities or incidents associated with state, local, tribal, territorial, or private sector computer networks and Web sites
- reports of denial of service attacks against Web sites; Web page defacement; physical entry resulting in unauthorized access to computer networks or hardware; suspicious e-mails that install malware on the network; data exfiltration, or other unusual network access or activity, where there are indicators that the cyber incident is reasonably indicative of links to terrorism.
Reports of suspicious activities or incidents associated with mass gatherings, and special events
- Reporting on observed casing activities; breaches or attempted intrusions at event locations or related venues; suspicious inquiries about security protocols for events or VIPs; testing of security; expressed or implied threats to specific events; incidents of suspicious acquisition of explosive precursor materials; or findings of caches or unusual amounts of weapons or explosives.
Reports of suspicious activities, queries, theft, sabotage, tampering, or vandalism within the transportation sector - including mass transit, aviation, maritime, ground and surface, rail, and pipeline systems
- Reporting on attempts to elicit information such as unusual questions about routes, capacities, peak travel time, training, and security; suspicious behavior by passengers or employees; testing of security; and expressed or implied threats by individuals or groups towards this sector. Reporting on the theft, loss, or diversion of personnel identification or credentials, uniforms, equipment, or training materials. Reporting on sabotage or loss of knowledge-based materials for maintenance of fleet.
Reports of efforts to artfully conceal improvised explosive devices in innocuous items, such as satchels, backpacks, suitcases, jars, bottles, cans, shoes, clothing, parcels, or toys
- Reporting on potential security probes by individuals trying to enter secure areas with devices that resemble explosive devices. Reporting on unsolicited or unusual parcels delivered from unfamiliar overseas addresses, noting the identification of the sender and recipient and whether the recipient has reported multiple suspicious parcels in recent weeks or months. Reporting on the use of special materials, such as lead or other dense metals or liquids, to prevent the discovery of illicit goods by technical detection equipment, such as x-ray radiography equipment or chemical detectors.
Homeland security has made suspicious activity reporting itself a top priority throughout the last several years. In 2011, they released a video
asking people to report anything suspicious to local authorities. Also in 2011, it was reported
that the Department of Homeland Security was partnering with several hotels across the nation in order to provide suspicious activity reporting messages for guests to see as soon as they click on the television. The DHS also recently released a list
of suspicious words they say should be monitored on social networking sites such as Facebook.
The centerpiece of suspicious activity reporting for Homeland Security, however, is their roll call releases in which they outline specific activities that they say should be reported. Some of these activities include photography
and owning things like test tubes, goggles, and coffee grinders
Many critics, specifically from the Libertarian point of view, fear that suspicious activity reporting is Orwellian and just fear mongering by the DHS. In this video
, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul criticizes terrorism classification and radio host and filmmaker Alex Jones created a satire piece
criticizing Homeland Security and their suspicious activity reporting bulletins. Homeland Security, however, continues to insist that what they are doing is solely for the purpose of fighting terrorism and is in the best interest of the American people.