Google and the CIA invest in analytics firm

Google and the CIA have both set their sites on an analytics firm created by a former Swedish Army Ranger. Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel, the CIA's investment arm, have given money to analytics firm Recorded Future. The sum of money given to Recorded Future wasn't released but it is less than $10 million each.

Recorded Future goes through tens of thousands of web sites and looks for content that is related. For example, the site searches Twitter accounts, blogs and other websites and analyzes them in an attempt to spot events and trends as early as possible. According to Wired, "The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online “momentum” for any given event." The CEO, Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in Computer Science, said, "The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases." The company describes itself as the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence and markets itself towards corporations and brands but they have also caught the attention of the guys in the counter-terrorism field.

The CIA has invested in a number of firms through In-Q-Tel to help them gain access to information. Some of the sites they have invested in include Visible Technologies, Attensity and Keyhole. Visible Technologies scrapes half a million web sites every day and stores the text from blogs and conversations that happen on those sites. Attensity applies rules of grammar to the "unstructured text" of the web so that government databases can more easily digest the data. Keyhole, now known as Google Earth, is used by the military intelligence to scout targeted locations.

Critics of the intelligence community aren't worried yet. Steven Aftergood, a member of the Federation of American Scientists said,

"To me, whether this is troublesome or not depends on the degree of transparency involved. If everything is aboveboard — from contracts to deliverables — I don’t see a problem with it. But if there are blank spots in the record, then they will be filled with public skepticism or worse, both here and abroad, and not without reason."

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"Visible Technologies scrapes half a million web sites every day and stores the text from blogs and conversations that happen on those sites."

This sounds like a copyright violation to me

rtire said,
"Visible Technologies scrapes half a million web sites every day and stores the text from blogs and conversations that happen on those sites."

This sounds like a copyright violation to me

Haha, that sounds about right yea. It's double standard

This system isn't for those CIA funded "terrists", it's for you, the American people.

You voted for this, so enjoy it!

With a success rate of less than 5% , is better to closing down CIA rather to keep spending money and giving a false image of safety.


Yep, why sue Google for privacy intrusion when you can just legalize it and make it work for the government.
Nice one Google! You got yourself a government backing.

Lest conspiracy theorist run hog wild have a few fact to ponder:
1) If Steve Aftergood of FAS (fas.org)-who runs the "Security Project" on excessive classification of information- is unconcerned by this development, don't lose sleep. If there was an ounce of stench here, he would be waiving red flags
2) Google has loads of mathematicians in their employee. Big math is their deal. Interesting, but not probative. For Google not to try and get in on the financial bounty exposed in last week's Washington Post series, Top Secret America-on uncontrolled growth in the Intelligence Community post 9-11- would be a shocker.
3) Yes-In-Q-Tel is a .com that the CIA setup a number of years ago to invest in promising IT goodies that would aid the CIA in doing their work. Nothing weird or suspect-a pretty normal .com
4) The US Intelligence Community has a hard-wired infosys in house that does not use the internet for anything. Zero-zip-nada
5) While Google is talking with them, nothing that the CIA or USIC does is online or on the net.
6) Wired has been known to carry speculative stories on DOD and the IC that require a serious leap of logic to even consider.
7) The CIA does not make a habit of correcting info that is drop dead wrong about their operations.
So sure, there is money to be made in predictive analysis. However, the IC does so little open-source work and even less online that the two actually hooking up for anything more than a small deal is a stretch.
Lastly-
Where this goes is anyone's guess, but I guarantee you that Google will not be doing anything in the open if they do cut a deal.

Like I said, if Aftergood isn't sleepless over it, you shouldn't be either.

Now that's ironic: The CIA -- one of the top security agencies in the country -- is working with Google, who has a shady privacy policy and has been severely hacked.

Somehow, I have my doubts.

Educated Idiot said,
Now that's ironic: The CIA -- one of the top security agencies in the country -- is working with Google, who has a shady privacy policy and has been severely hacked.

Somehow, I have my doubts.

The fact that they're both investing in the same company doesn't mean they're working together. More like helping a third party company to do something that both have uses for.

Educated Idiot said,
Now that's ironic: The CIA -- one of the top security agencies in the country -- is working with Google, who has a shady privacy policy and has been severely hacked.

Somehow, I have my doubts.

The CIA doesn't pay enough I guess...

If the amount of money that was given is undisclosed, how can it be claimed to be less than $10 million each?

vanx said,
If the amount of money that was given is undisclosed, how can it be claimed to be less than $10 million each?

maybe some limit set within the rules and laws?

vanx said,
If the amount of money that was given is undisclosed, how can it be claimed to be less than $10 million each?

Most likely a range was given like many surveys and questionnaires (i.e. what age group do you fall in: under 18, 18-21, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, over 50)

Lol twitter, really?

Bobtheterrorist - Well I think I'm going to blow up this rock today
@Bobtheterrorist - Great idea! Let's commit Jihad
@Bobtheterrorist - Awesome, that will be some big explosion

What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

/- Razorfold said,
Lol twitter, really?

Bobtheterrorist - Well I think I'm going to blow up this rock today
@Bobtheterrorist - Great idea! Let's commit Jihad
@Bobtheterrorist - Awesome, that will be some big explosion

What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

yea because a company that "searches Twitter accounts, blogs and other websites" is only capable of searching twitter posts and not known terrorist sites that things get posted on regularly. just because you don't have access to them doesn't mean they don't

ILikeTobacco said,

yea because a company that "searches Twitter accounts, blogs and other websites" is only capable of searching twitter posts and not known terrorist sites that things get posted on regularly. just because you don't have access to them doesn't mean they don't

Oh please. Just how many terrorist attacks have you heard of that are posted on some obscure website? And even if it was I'm pretty sure there will at least be some basic security that will make this search useless. It's almost always after it happens that it gets posted with some group taking responsibility.

Notice how I said "or even a website in general"

/- Razorfold said,
Lol twitter, really?

Bobtheterrorist - Well I think I'm going to blow up this rock today
@Bobtheterrorist - Great idea! Let's commit Jihad
@Bobtheterrorist - Awesome, that will be some big explosion

What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

I thought it was more about quickly and accurately gather and sorting information, rather than directly getting "intelligence" through terrorists blogging their future plans.

but i dunno...

/- Razorfold said,
Lol twitter, really?
What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

They might. If you do a search you will find a number of alleged terrorists notebooks to be recovered with the plans stored in the My Pictures folder on XP with no encryption. Not really sure what to make of it. Storing your data in Google Docs is the next logically step.

/- Razorfold said,

Oh please. Just how many terrorist attacks have you heard of that are posted on some obscure website? And even if it was I'm pretty sure there will at least be some basic security that will make this search useless. It's almost always after it happens that it gets posted with some group taking responsibility.

Notice how I said "or even a website in general"

plenty. how many times do you hear reports of the CIA or FBI knowing about an attack days before it happens just without details? the point of this software is to make sense of the massive amounts of data and put it in a meaningful way to possibly predict things.

/- Razorfold said,
Lol twitter, really?

Bobtheterrorist - Well I think I'm going to blow up this rock today
@Bobtheterrorist - Great idea! Let's commit Jihad
@Bobtheterrorist - Awesome, that will be some big explosion

What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

See those keywords I put in bold? What's really bad is that you've now been flagged as a person of interest by a computer at the NSA simply because of those words. Want to test the theory further? Add the name of a certain world leader and watch how fast you get a knock on your door.

/- Razorfold said,
Lol twitter, really?

Bobtheterrorist - Well I think I'm going to blow up this rock today
@Bobtheterrorist - Great idea! Let's commit Jihad
@Bobtheterrorist - Awesome, that will be some big explosion

What a waste of money and time.. Are they seriously expecting someone to post plans of a terrorist attack on some public site, or even a website in general?

Anything easily public, and easily used makes sense to use for that exact purpose.

Maybe not in plain language, but using code words. We've all seen the movies where "the dog walks at night" is simply a coded message.

NightmarE D said,

See those keywords I put in bold? What's really bad is that you've now been flagged as a person of interest by a computer at the NSA simply because of those words. Want to test the theory further? Add the name of a certain world leader and watch how fast you get a knock on your door.

I wonder if someone post something like "explosive diarrhea".

Lamp0 said,
so the CIA actually develop chrome!?!
That's right, brotato. Every time you click on Porn Mode a little red light flashes in some underground bunker. And you can pretty much take my word as gospel.