View Full Version : FBI Wants New App to Wiretap the Internet

Peter Lemkin
01-26-2012, 10:11 PM
FBI Wants New App to Wiretap the Internet
'Scraping' social network postings including Facebook and Twitter
- Common Dreams staff

The FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) posted a 'Request for Information (RFI)' online last week seeking companies to build a social network monitoring system for the FBI. The 12-page document (.pdf) spells out what the bureau wants from such a system and invites potential contractors to reply by February 10, 2012.

It says the application should provide information about possible domestic and global threats superimposed onto maps "using mash-up technology".

It says the application should collect "open source" information and have the ability to:
Provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter.
Allow users to create new keyword searches.
Display different levels of threats as alerts on maps, possibly using color coding to distinguish priority. Google Maps 3D and Yahoo Maps are listed among the "preferred" mapping options.
Plot a wide range of domestic and global terror data.
Immediately translate foreign language tweets into English.

It notes that agents need to "locate bad actors...and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions". It also states that the bureau will use social media to create "pattern-of-life matrices" -- presumably logs of targets' daily routines -- that will aid law enforcement in planning operations.

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New Scientist magazine reports today:

"These tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time, do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US" -- Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly released details of plans to continuously monitor the global output of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, offering a rare glimpse into an activity that the FBI and other government agencies are reluctant to discuss publicly. The plans show that the bureau believes it can use information pulled from social media sites to better respond to crises, and maybe even to foresee them. [...]

The use of the term "publicly available" suggests that Facebook and Twitter may be able to exempt themselves from the monitoring by making their posts private. But the desire of the US government to watch everyone may still have an unwelcome impact, warns Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based advocacy group.

Lynch says that many people post to social media in the expectation that only their friends and followers are reading, which gives them "the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse," says Lynch. "But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time, do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US".

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The BBC reports:

"Social networks are about connecting people with other people - if one person is the target of police monitoring, there will be a dragnet effect in which dozens, even hundreds, of innocent users also come under surveillance" -- Gus Hosein, Privacy International
The FBI issued the request three weeks after the US Department of Homeland Security released a separate report into the privacy implications of monitoring social media websites.

It justified the principle of using information that users have provided and not opted to make private.

"Information posted to social media websites is publicly accessible and voluntarily generated. Thus the opportunity not to provide information exists prior to the informational post by the user," it says.[...]

The London-based campaign group, Privacy International, said it was worried about the consequences of such activities.

"Social networks are about connecting people with other people - if one person is the target of police monitoring, there will be a dragnet effect in which dozens, even hundreds, of innocent users also come under surveillance," said Gus Hosein, the group's executive director.

"It is not necessarily the case that the more information law enforcement officers have, the safer we will be.

"Police may well find themselves overwhelmed by a flood of personal information, information that is precious to those it concerns but useless for the purposes of crime prevention."

* * *

The Fierce Government website reports on 'refining raw social media into intelligence gold':

The notion that the future can be predicted by trends expressed in collective social media output is one that has gained increased currency in academic writing. A January analysis (.pdf) published by the Rand Corp. of tweets using the #IranElection hashtag during 2009 and early 2010 found a correlation between appearance of swear words and protests. The study also found a shift that indicated the protest movement was losing momentum when swearing shifted from curses at the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to curses at an opposition figure.

A March 2011 paper published in the Journal of Computational Science (abstract) also posited that movements of the Dow Jones Industrial Average could be predicted to an accuracy of 86.7 percent by changes of national mood reflected in Tweets. According to The Economist, British hedge fund Derwent Capital Markets has licensed the algorithm to guide the investments of a $41 million fund.

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Peter Lemkin
01-31-2012, 08:45 AM
Brits deported from U.S. over Twitter joke to 'destroy America'

By JohnThomas Didymus
Jan 30, 2012 -
Los Angeles - Two British citizens were barred from entering the United States because they joked on Twitter they were coming to the U.S. to "destroy America," and "dig up Marilyn Monroe."
The Sun reports that the Department of Homeland Security flagged Leigh Van Bryan a potential threat to the United States because, in his excitement over his visiting the U.S., he posted the news to his friends, saying: "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America."
According to The Sun, Leigh was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport, questioned for five hours, handcuffed and held under armed guard, in the same cell with tattooed Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours. He travelling companion Emily Bunting, was also held by U.S. security officials last Monday .
Leigh tried in vain to explain to the security officials that "destroy" is a British slang for "partying."
The two were amazed when they found that security officials actually took Leigh's expression that he was coming to "dig up Marilyn Monroe" literally. Federal agents searched their suitcases for spades and shovels, and expressed suspicion that Emily came to act as "lookout" while Leigh tried to "dig up Marilyn Monroe."
Emily said: "The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do. They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party. I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn't believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show." (The Washington Post explains that the joke about "digging up Marilyn Monroe" actually comes from an American TV comedy show "Family Guy.")
The Sun reports Leigh said he tried to explain to the officials that they had got his meaning about "destroying America" wrong. But one of the officials told him, "You've really f***** up with that tweet boy."
After the two were returned to the airport, they were handed documents that explained why they were refused entry to the U.S. Daily Mail reports Leigh's charge sheet read: "He had posted on his Tweeter website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe. Also on his tweeter account Mr Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America."
Emily's charge sheet read: "It is believed that you are travelling with Leigh-Van Bryan who possibly has the intentions of coming to the United States to commit crimes."
Orwellian Big Brother monitoring our Tweets
The Washington Post reports this is not the first time a Twitter joke by a British would lead to trouble with authorities. A man, Peter Chambers, who in 2010, tweeted a joke about how bad weather led to closure of the airport was arrested on charges of terrorism and found guilty of sending "grossly offensive" message "by a public communications network."
The Washington Post also reports the case of Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament, who was served a subpoena by the U.S. Department of Justice on tweets she wrote about WikiLeaks. According to Jonsdottir, in a blog warning people who use the web: "Many users do not understand that they are giving away all control of their web usage... Personal data can be used against you...!This is very dangerous to those, like me, who are activists, journalists and researchers. It equally endangers the merely curious."
Daily Mail reports the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains false accounts on Twitter. The accounts are used to scan networks for "sensitive" words and for tracking people.
The online privacy group, Electronic Privacy Information Centre, made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for information about the scans but was ignored. According to Daily Mail, words deemed "sensitive" by the DHS include: Illegal immigrant, Outbreak, Drill, Strain, Virus, Recovery, Deaths, Collapse, Human to animal and Trojan.

Seamus Coogan
01-31-2012, 09:54 AM
That is just one of the craziest things I have heard. Really scary!

Jan Klimkowski
01-31-2012, 05:34 PM
I'm surprized the Volkland Security State didn't parade them in orange jumpsuits before rendering them to some classified black hole.

Peter Lemkin
01-31-2012, 08:30 PM
I guess the common Americanism 'to get destroyed' [meaning to drink to oblivion or take some other drug[s] until smashed] will not be interpreted as a suicide bomber's statement. :mexican: So, take heed...when flying into to the Reich, don't talk, don't write, don't Tweet, don't sms. Just shut up, watch the movie, enjoy the 'security frisking' et al. and be glad you're not sent to Gitmo instead of where it was you wanted to go.......