Dec 10, 2013
The Data Hackers
Posted on Oct 11, 2013
By Pratap Chatterjee, TomDispatch
“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,” Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems department, told the Guardian. The company denies that anyone has yet bought Riot, but U.S. government agencies certainly appear more than eager to purchase such tools.
For example, in January 2012 the FBI posted a request for an app that would allow it to “provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter and mmediately translate foreign language tweets into English.” In January 2013, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration asked contractors to propose apps “to generate an assessment of the risk to the aviation transportation system that may be posed by a specific individual” using “specific sources of current, accurate, and complete non-governmental data.”
Privacy activists say that the Riot package is troubling indeed. “This sort of software allows the government to surveil everyone,” Ginger McCall, the director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Open Government program, told NBC News. “It scoops up a bunch of information about totally innocent people. There seems to be no legitimate reason to get this.”
Refining fuel from underground deposits has allowed us to travel vast distances by buses, trains, cars, and planes for pleasure and profit but at an unintentional cost: the gradual warming of our planet. Likewise, the refining of our data into social apps for pleasure, profit, and government surveillance is also coming at a cost: the gradual erosion of our privacy and ultimately our freedom of speech.
With a lot of help from the surveillance industry, Big Bro has already won the fight to watch all of us all the time—unless we decide to do something about it.
Pratap Chatterjee, a TomDispatch regular, is executive director of CorpWatch and a board member of Amnesty International USA. He is the author of Halliburton’s Army (Nation Books) and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press).
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Copyright 2013 Pratap Chatterjee
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