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US government potentially has social network spy tools

In a report that shows the capabilities of a piece of social networking snooping technology, developed by Raytheon, a US defence contractor, it has emerged that the tool, while not sold to any foreign parties, was shared with the US government in 2010.

This means that the technology, dubbed ironically RIOT – Rapid Information Overlay Technology – is likely in the hands of the US government. Combined with the Patriot Act that President Obama recently extended for another four year term and you have a government with the capability to not only tracking social media activities, but to use that data to predict future activities by a user and then potentially arrest them for it – without charges.

Raytheon
A Raytheon missile battery, now with twitter integration!

“Social networking sites are often not transparent about what information is shared and how it is shared,” said Ginger McCall, from the US Electronic Privacy Information Centre (via the Telegraph). “Users may be posting information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead, it is being viewed by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search.”

This all came to light as part of the push in the UK for a new Communications Bill, which would give the government here more powers to monitor phone calls, emails and internet usage of citizens it believes are involved with child sex rings or terrorist cells. However, civil rights groups argue that it will lead to the invasion of many an innocent citizen’s privacy.

KitGuru Says: I find it ironic that governments like the current one in Britain, that champion “Big Society” and less government involvement, feel like they need to be more involved when it comes to snooping on communications. Real hypocrisy at work.

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