posted on Feb, 10 2013 @ 12:44 PM
Raytheon, the fifth largest global defence contractor, has developed an "extreme-scale analytics" system to gather and analyse information about
people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
While not sold to clients, the software has been shared with the US government and industry during a joint research and development effort, in 2010,
allowing a national security system to analyse "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. In the video obtained by the
Guardian, it is explained by Raytheon's "principal investigator" Brian Urch that photographs users post on social networks sometimes contain
latitude and longitude details – automatically embedded by smartphones within so-called "exif header data."
Riot can display on a spider diagram the associations and relationships between individuals online by looking at who they have communicated with over
Twitter. It can also mine data from 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 by tracked individuals and
the times at which they visited them.
Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon's intelligence and information systems department, said in an email: "Riot is a big data analytics system
design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help
meet our nation's rapidly changing security needs.
Raytheon's Riot mines social networks for information, extracts date and position data from photographs, tracks using mobile phones app(s) and builds
spider diagrams of relationships and places visited.
Reducing a mass of data to comprehensible information seems to be the main selling point of the program to identify individuals who may prove a
security risk. According to the US government's trade controls department, the program is available for export to most destinations without license.
I have always assumed that such programs have been operational for some time. I may not be too wrong in assuming that this software is the tip of an