US.Gov to harvest MySpace, social networks for data

Written by Wil Harris

June 12, 2006 // 3:02 p.m.

Tags: #data #government #mining #myspace #new-scientist #nsa #semantic #social #us

A project funded by the National Security Agency aims to profile millions of web users for the purpose of the US' security.

According to New Scientist, the Advanced Research Development Activity carried out research into how to mine data from social websites such as MySpace and Digg. The ARDA, now renamed into the Disruptive Technology Agency, is funded by the NSA and according to Congress, tasked with using NSA cash to "Solve some of the most critical problems facing the US intelligence community".

According to the magazine, "By adding online social networking data to its phone analyses, the NSA could connect people at deeper levels, through shared activities, such as taking flying lessons. Typically, online social networking sites ask members to enter details of their immediate and extended circles of friends, whose blogs they might follow.

People often list other facets of their personality including political, sexual, entertainment, media and sporting preferences too. Some go much further, and a few have lost their jobs by publicly describing drinking and drug-taking exploits. Young people have even been barred from the orthodox religious colleges that they are enrolled in for revealing online that they are gay."


So we are to presume that potential terrorists might list "Learning to crash planes" under their interests in MySpace? "Other people interested in crashing planes - add them to your friends list!"

The NSA has come under fire recently for keeping phone logs of American citizens.

Do you think that 'semantic data' from the web can really help with catching terrorists? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.

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