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CIA-Backed Firm Invests in Social Media Monitoring

Alex Constantine - October 20, 2009

Quoted: Because if we can’t monitor their tweets, the terrorists win
by John Murrell
October 20th, 2009

“The CIA specifically needs the help of innovative tech firms to keep up with the pace of innovation in social media. ... They need help in following young international Internet user-herds as they move their allegiance from one site to another. Facebook says that more than 70 percent of its users are outside the U.S., in more than 180 countries. There are more than 200 non-U.S., non-English-language microblogging Twitter-clone sites today. If the intelligence community ignored that tsunami of real-time information, we’d call them incompetent.”...

CIA-Backed Firm Invests in Social Media Monitoring
20 October 2009
Posted by David Meyer

logo visible technologies - CIA-Backed Firm Invests in Social Media MonitoringA CIA-sponsored investment company called In-Q-Tel has bought into Visible Technologies, a company that provides a social media monitoring technology called truCast. TruCast powers services that let companies monitor how often subjects are being discussed on Twitter and in other forms of online social conversation. In a statement on Friday, In-Q-Tel's head of architecture and engineering, Troy Pearsall, said truCast would help his company keep an eye on online conversation trends. ...

STORY - http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10014244o-2000331761b,00.htm
Will the CIA Snoop on Social Networks?
The government agency is looking for ways to aggregate content from social networks, a report says.
David Worthington

... The CIA is barred by law from domestic spying in the United States, but in the past, the agency reportedly has employed creative ways to bypass the law, to hide documents from Congressional review, and to set up an illegal dragnet of domestic communications services. In the last case, Congress gave telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution after it allegedly learned about the spying.

Of course, most folks' Tweets are public, and even if you don't share everything with the entire world on Facebook, it's less private than a phone conversation. Does the notion of the government monitoring social network activity make you nervous? ...

STORY - http://www.pcworld.com/article/173964/will_the_cia_snoop_on_social_networks.html
CIA’s Venture Capital Arm, In-Q-Tel, Invests in Social Web Monitoring Firm

... Can you name another company that received funding from In-Q-Tel? That’s right, Keyhole Corp. And of course we all know that Keyhole was acquired by Google in 2004 and became Google Earth and used with other Google Map services.

+ In-Q-Tel Invests in Keyhole (June 25, 2003)
+ Google Acquires Keyhole (October 27, 2004)
+ In-Q-Tel Sells 5,636 Shares of Google (November 14, 2005)

The acquisition was reported in many places including the Washington Post, The Register, and InternetNews.com. ...

Could Visible Technologies and what they offer be ripe for a Google purchase? We know Google is in acquisition mode. Something to think about.

STORY - http://www.resourceshelf.com/2009/10/19/cias-venture-capital-arm-in-q-tel-invests-in-social-web-monitoring-firm/
Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets
By Noah Shachtman
October 19, 2009

... 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.’ ... ”

STORY - http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10/exclusive-us-spies-buy-stake-in-twitter-blog-monitoring-firm/

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