Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yes, As A Matter Of Fact They Are Watching You

From Wired comes the news that the government has bought a stake in a company which makes its hay looking at blogs and categorizing their contents. No doubt this will be for our own good and will not be used to create profiles of people who choose to speak out against government policies they find abhorrent. There's no way they'd ever create an enemies list. Right?
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.
It was bad enough when a private company was doing it. Now that the government has a stake in it? Yeah, that's worse.

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