Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CIA watching us all?

The following has been copied from this site.

America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.

“That’s kind of the basic step — get in and monitor,” says company senior vice president Blake Cahill.

Then Visible “scores” each post, labeling it as positive or negative, mixed or neutral. It examines how influential a conversation or an author is. (”Trying to determine who really matters,” as Cahill puts it.) Finally, Visible gives users a chance to tag posts, forward them to colleagues and allow them to response through a web interface.

In-Q-Tel says it wants Visible to keep track of foreign social media, and give spooks “early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally,” spokesperson Donald Tighe tells Danger Room.

Of course, such a tool can also be pointed inward, at domestic bloggers or tweeters. Visible already keeps tabs on web 2.0 sites for Dell, AT&T and Verizon. For Microsoft, the company is monitoring the buzz on its Windows 7 rollout. For Spam-maker Hormel, Visible is tracking animal-right activists’ online campaigns against the company.

“Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection,” says Steven Aftergood, who tracks intelligence issues at the Federation of American Scientists. But “even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations. Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. That is not permissible even if all of the information in question is technically ‘open source.’”


And here in the UK we have this and this and this and this and this.

So, when does the revolution start?


Wormit Steve said...

“Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection,” says Steven Aftergood

Unless, of course, its a matter of national security or any other [insert word] security program. Or you choose not to publish it.

Many countries spy on other countries and have done so for a very long time. As much as I feel it's off putting we do place publicly available information onto the web. The irony would be that those who would elect to collect it actually read it and find a different perspective to the narrow-minded views they may hold. Could placing more and more free speech, free trade, liberty rich articles fester knowledge and understanding of the causes and oppressions we suffer? Here's hoping.

I'm a libertarian and I'm not out to get you!

Anonymous said...

Rab the internet is a public network,so they datamine it,but you know it,I know it and use it because of that,we know the politico's use the political blog's for info,so I like to help them with my thoughts.

Demetrius said...

If they have been following all this stuff on the net, they will know an enormous amount about all the various forms of irritable bowel syndrome. But perhaps that is why they are doing it.

Gigits said...

Can we get a CIA blog rating now then?

I want to break into the Top 100 of it!

Joe Public said...

Ricin, Zayn al-Abidn Muhammed Hasayn Abu Zubaydah, PETN, Jihad, Thermite, Al-Qaeda, Cocaine, Anthrax, Obama,..........

There ye go Rab, I've got you another reader!

Rab C. Nesbitt said...


The Filthy Engineer said...

In my stats I've come across a browser called Ripper. The IP is located in Quantico and is run by the US naval intelligence. WTF are they looking at me for?

Have you come across Ripper before, as there is very little about it on the web?

Dark Lochnagar said...

Just as I posted the other day Rab, it's time we did something. Surely a campaign by bloggers would crash their systems, if we all used buzz words in our posts.

Dark Lochnagar said...

p.s. Did you know that Ayr played those bastards that gubbed you last night in a pre-season friendly and only got beat 0-1 with a goal in 85 minutes. And I thought we were shite.

banned said...

So there will be no danger of evil Gordon Brown and his henchpersons knowing just exactly how much we hate them ? No wonder Barak can't be arsed to meet him.

Screech said...

Windows 7 is SHIT, oh and Jacui Smith is still an all time cunt, as is Gordon Brown