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Raytheon's Riot Program Mines Social Network Data For Intelligence Agencies 119

Shipud writes "Raytheon has secretly developed software capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future behavior by mining data from social networking websites according to The Guardian. An 'extreme-scale analytics' system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defense 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 company has acknowledged the technology was shared with U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analyzing 'trillions of entities' from cyberspace. The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into controversial techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns."
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Raytheon's Riot Program Mines Social Network Data For Intelligence Agencies

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  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:46PM (#42860343)

    tracking people's movements and predicting future behavior

    Time for a forest and tree analogy. On a rounding basis, the masses have historically never done anything terribly exciting, important, or relevant. So paying intense attention to them is a waste of resources. Its always the 10% or less who actually influence history. If we made all predictions based on the median joe 6 pack couch potato, we'd still be british subjects, we'd still be in control of independent south vietnam, iraq and afghanistan would be fully pacified, blah blah blah.

    I don't think that knowing 30% of the population liked the most recent american idol episode is actionable intelligence information in either the short, medium, or long term. Imagine a squad about to deploy on a mission in Iraq being told that the best help intel can provide today is that 15% of active facebook users like listening to Bieber. Umm, thanks guys, on to the next briefing.

    Its a self blinding technology, not an enlightening technology. I'm sure its highly profitable for contractors of course.

  • Programmer ethics? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:21PM (#42860941) Homepage Journal

    I've often wondered about the programmers who write these software packages.

    The stereotype programmer is young, bright, scientific, idealistic, and concerned for global issues.

    And yet, big companies have no problem staffing teams to write the software for predator drones, Carnivore [wikipedia.org], Total Information Awareness [wikipedia.org], and other packages which are used to violate human rights.

    Where do these "programmers of dubious character" come from?

    Many programmers say (when I ask) that they have high moral standards - more so than (they say) the average person. And yet, they work on all sorts of sketchy things.

    Can anyone explain the disconnect? Is there a level of "bravery" associated with morality (ie - I'm against *this*, but not willing to lose my job over it)? Are moral arguments here (for example) just blowing smoke?

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments