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‘Google for spies’ draws ire from rights groups

Home - by - February 12, 2013 - 14:00 America/New_York - 6 Comments


A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites.

A video obtained by the Guardian reveals how an “extreme-scale analytics” system created by Raytheon, the world’s fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software – named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology – to any clients. But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing “trillions of entities” from cyberspace.

The power of Riot to harness websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns.

Using Riot it is possible to gain a picture of a person’s life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button.

In the video obtained by the Guardian, Raytheon’s “principal investigator” Brian Urch explains that photographs which users post on social networks sometimes contain latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within so-called “exif header data”. Riot pulls out this information, showing the location at which the pictures were taken. Riot can display online associations and relationships using Twitter and Facebook and sift GPS location information from Foursquare, a mobile phone app used by more than 25 million people to alert friends of their whereabouts. The Foursquare data can be used to display, in graph form, the top 10 places visited and the times at which they visited them.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/google-for-spies-draws-ire-from-rights-groups-20130211-2e75y.html#ixzz2KeyzAxP3

h/t  MaryJaneAnklestraps


  1. RosalindJ

    February 12th, 2013

    IT (get it? IT? Knee-slapper) gets worse. It’s only a tool, but who gets to wield it?

    ““the frightening advantage the left has is in a less touted entity known as the Analyst Institute (AI) and a consortium of behavioral scientists” who are “concerned not only with your characteristics and voting behavior, but how they can manipulate that behavior.””


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  2. Unruly Refugee

    February 12th, 2013

    If the progs have their way, one day they will use all that information to imprison everybody who has an opinion or belief system that doesn’t match up with theirs.

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  3. SD Tom

    February 12th, 2013

    Thusly, as I have always explained to my family, friends, and colleagues when they assail me with gasps of incredulous disbelief over the fact that I have always absolutely refused to participate in any “Social Networking Websites” of any kind whatsoever [no facebook, no twitter, no google+, no myspace, no social network anything that can be culled from using my personal info] because –

    I Implicitly Do Not Trust Our Government! Plus, I Do Not Trust Millionaires and Billionaires Who Became Millionaires and Billionaires By Gaming The System and Producing NOTHING WHATSOEVER But Websites.

    It has NEVER required a genius level intellect — even as far back as at the dawn of personal use desktop home computers — to foresee where every single tiny little scrap of all of that personal information was and is absolutely going to end up.

    Suckah foo’s!

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  4. Unruly Refugee

    February 12th, 2013

    @SD Tom,
    Agree completely. And your website rocks! Long time fan.

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  5. Team America

    February 12th, 2013

    The reason I’m not on ANY social networks (including the alleged “safe job network” Linked In). I visit various blog sites but iOTW is the only one I post on.

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  6. Billy Fuster

    February 12th, 2013

    We’re all living in the Truman Show.

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