The Bulletin

Raytheon makes it easier for the government to track you

Posting in Government

Defense contractor Raytheon has developed a software tool that can peer into social media accounts, like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, and mine that data to watch, and more importantly, predict, future behavior.

The Guardian obtained a video demonstration of the software, known as RIOT, or rapid information overlay technology, developed by the Massachusetts-based defense contractor.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software. However, it has shared the tech with the U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort in 2010 that aimed to build a national security system capable of analyzing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace, reported the Guardian.

Data from Twitter might not reveal much. But aggregating data from a variety of social media sites can provide a detailed view--your mug included--of how you spend your day. For instance, the tool cannot only map out where you've been on Google Earth, but collect the location data from photos you've taken and uploaded as well.

By sifting through data in your various social media accounts, RIOT can determine what you look like, where and when you check into specific places--in the company's demonstration it was an employee's habitual workouts at a gym--and how often, including the time, you frequent that place.

The U.S. government has shown a strong interest in this type of technology. As VentureBeat notes, the FBI put out a request for proposals last year for a tool that could spider different social networks, collecting keywords to identify current emergency situations and predict future ones.

Photo: Stock.xchng

— By on February 11, 2013, 8:30 PM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure