Your cell phone is tracking you, there are spies on Facebook, streetlights are eavesdropping on us, and even the TOYS we play with a spying on us! Now it turns out that the FBI has quietly released details of plans to continuously monitor the global output of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
The Bureau is trying to keep this under wraps, but the information came out from a document released on January 19th looking for companies who might want to build a monitoring system for them in order to do this.
In New Scientist, Jim Giles writes: "The bureau’s wish list calls for the system to be able to automatically search "publicly available" material from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for keywords relating to terrorism, surveillance operations, online crime and other FBI missions. Agents would be alerted if the searches produce evidence of ‘breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats.’ "
Agents will have the option of displaying the tweets and other material captured by the system on a map, to which they can add layers of other data, including the locations of US embassies and military installations, details of previous terrorist attacks and the output from local traffic cameras."
Giles quotes researcher Jennifer Lynch as saying 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. 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."
All this is enough to make us dread the future! We sure do feel that way some days, when we contemplate having to close down this website for lack of support. Even a site this feisty can’t do it alone–we need YOUR support in order to keep going. So do YOUR part–subscribe today!
No one will be spying on you at our Dreamland Festival in May, but you’ll make new friends, renew old friendships, and get to meet your favorite Dreamland hosts, who will all be talking about incredible things you’ve never known before. It’s food for thought that will keep you going all year, but hurry–tickets are selling out fast!