- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2016

Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio said Monday that the United States government should use Web targeting and behavioral tracking utilized by companies to track consumer habits to hunt terrorists online.

At a town hall in New Hampshire, the freshman senator from Florida said companies know more about consumers than the government does, and understanding people’s web surfing habits can be used to see who is being radicalized online.

“One of the two San Bernardino killers was an American citizen. Born and raised in the United States of America, had an infant child, was a health inspector. This is not someone whose bio you would read and say, ‘that’s a terrorist,’” Mr. Rubio said.

“And yet [he] somehow was radicalized, probably online, and was willing to kill massacre 14 Americans and was on his way to killing more people had it not been for the brave men and women of law enforcement that stopped him,” he said. “We have to be able to identify this before it happens in the future.”

Companies access information such as what magazines people subscribe to, information about their cable packages or what they shop for online, Mr. Rubio said. Such data-gathering efforts would be of great use to the intelligence community to identify homegrown extremists, he said.

He said that such data trackers would not infringe on civil liberties, but rather track patterns on social media to find people who were frequenting radical websites.

“There are certain patterns that people that are being radicalized behave. And you can do this without watching any of you because you are not doing that,” Mr. Rubio said. “Nobody here is watching [Islamic State] videos every night or nobody here is searching websites to be radicalized. You wouldn’t pop up in that. But there are certain behavioral trackers that exist, especially from people abroad.”

Mr. Rubio bashed President Obama working to protect privacy rights, but in the process “actually protecting the privacy rights of foreigners.”

“I’m a member of the intelligence committee, I review this stuff almost weekly, I see the threats lined up against America,” he said. I see the information we have and I shudder to think the information we don’t have anymore because they figured out how we collect information and are therefore able to hide from us.”

After the San Bernardino shootings in early December, stricter gun control laws were brought up by Democrats in an effort to stop the rash of mass shootings, of which there were almost one a day in 2015.

Mr. Rubio argued that the Second Amendment was enough to implement a national open carry law and lashed out at Democrats for making Republicans out to be in favor of gun violence.

“The issue is not guns, the issue is violence,” he said, contending that most gun violence would not be prevented by greater gun laws, since people trying to kill other people were already bent on breaking the law and gun restrictions would likely not stop them.

Mr. Obama is likely to reveal an executive action plan for gun control this week, an issue that he made a top priority for his administration but has been unable to move on due to partisan gridlock in Congress. He has called his inability to further gun control laws the biggest “regret” of his tenure in office.

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