Posts Tagged ‘Dataminers’

The FBI and its National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) have collected 1.5 billion records from public and private sources for a massive data mining operation, according to documents recently obtained by Wired magazine. The records collected by the FBI include financial records from corporate databases, such as hotel and rental car company transactions; millions of “suspicious activity reports” from financial institutions; millions of records from commercial data aggregators; a multitude of law enforcement and non-law enforcement government databases; and public information gleaned from telephone books and news articles. The NSAC records include the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse, which was identified in a 2007 Department of Justice Inspector General report as the database storing information collected by the FBI through the use of National Security Letters (NSLs).

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Google’s information appetite is never-ending , and now the search-and-advertising giant wants your help in building a profile page that will show up anytime anyone searches on your name.

Be afraid.

The Google Profile service is intended to let you tell Google how to index you. You tell it (or hide from it) your picture, your bio, and links to your pages around the web — such as your Facebook account, Wikipedia page or your Twitter feed. It also includes a handy feature to let people email you, without actually giving out your email address.

Right now, those profiles show up low in regular search results, but as people begin to fill them out, Google will likely make them the top result for your name.

That puts Google even more firmly in control of the index of your online life. In fact, Google’s power will make it imperative for you to fill out your profile, lest you give Google all of the control over what people find about you on the net (see Google’s profile search, for instance)

Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites [LINK]
US Intelligence Agencies Targeting Online Gaming Networks [LINK]
Social Media In The Military: Insight Into The Future of Social Networks [LINK]

us military social network

A new startup is helping reshape the social networking landscape by using artificial intelligence to automate the process of identifying, finding and retrieving specific types of information locked within online communities.

Over the past decade, social networks have become a powerful new force for attracting internet traffic. In the UK, Facebook is currently the second most popular website followed by Google, according to Hitwise, an internet research firm.

It’s not surprising that the names of the various social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn have become common destinations for younger people as well as businesses.

But finding information and expert sources of knowledge quickly within social networks is neither easy nor efficient and valuable information is left buried within online communities.

To date, much of the technology focus has been on building document-based information retrieval techniques, leaving the process of identifying human sources of information, also known as “expertise identification,” with much less attention.

Enter a group of scientists and military officers who have helped build a new social analytics tool that identifies and automatically uncovers intelligence to help military personnel perform better in the field.

SRI International based in Menlo Park, California, teamed up with military officers to build a new social analytics tool called iLink that generates models and helps streamline the process by which a specific expert in an online community can be found.

In simple terms, iLink is a machine learning-based system that models users and content in a social network and then points the user to relevant content.

The team developed the basic social networking technology, which combines workflow and analytics. The research and development effort was part of a five-year project called CALO (Cognitive Agent that Learns and Organizes), and funded by the US Department of Defense.

“They wanted a real system to be built and deployed into military settings,” said Jeffrey Davitz, an SRI scientist and co-developer of the iLink technology. “What we did was connect the text mining technology that had been done in social media and connected it to the Web 2.0 applications,” he added.

The iLink system had several goals, including real-time learning by matching queries and communities users; adapting to user demands and directions, providing accuracy in message targeting and routing and, finally, dynamic user profile correction based on community behaviours and identification of community experts.

The learning in iLink occurs by watching a natural social network, and selecting effective strategies that emerge from the system as the members try to solve problems. The system continuously monitors the real social network and it is capable of drafting from the social network’s learning.

“We started with a lot of analytics stuff, text flow and workflow,” Davitz said.

The iLink software uses artificial intelligence software and message routing technology to help the system learn about the online participants and move specific questions to those who are best equipped to answer them. The SRI scientists basically build a profile of each person in the community and the iLink system starts to learn about the movement of information around the community.

The US military is currently evaluating the iLink technology and how it can be applied to solve battlefield problems as well as help promote professional development, and support military families.

The researchers said the military uses a Facebook-like social community to help soldiers learn from others who had been in Iraq. The SRI scientists met with cadets at West Point in early 2007 to help refine and further develop the system.

Prior to the development of the iLink system, the cadets had written and developed their own software to help connect communities so various types of questions arising from counter-insurgency and battlefield situations in Iraq could be asked. Basically, the iLink system cuts across three online military communities with the expressed purpose of improving the way army platoon leaders and even wives, share critical information.

Looking beyond the military, the applications for this kind of smart social networking technology are broad and diverse. The two SRI scientists are planning to spin off the technology into a startup to be called Social Kinetics. The team is currently working on a healthcare application.

And with the demand for social networking growing – estimates for social networking users in the US alone by 2012 is expected to hit 92.2 million, according to In-Stat’s Hitwise research service – the commercial benefits to businesses and individuals could be immense.

The biggest demographic adopting and using social networking technologies are college students. In 2008, 95.7% of college students and 17.4 million people will go online at least once a month, according to a new report from eMarketer.

Much of the push for social networking technologies is because students demand access to friends and information whenever they want and wherever they are.


The most extensive government report to date on whether terrorists can be identified through data mining has yielded an important conclusion: It doesn’t really work.

A National Research Council report, years in the making and scheduled to be released Tuesday, concludes that automated identification of terrorists through data mining or any other mechanism “is neither feasible as an objective nor desirable as a goal of technology development efforts.” Inevitable false positives will result in “ordinary, law-abiding citizens and businesses” being incorrectly flagged as suspects.

The whopping 352-page report, called “Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists,” amounts to at least a partial repudiation of the Defense Department’s controversial data-mining program called Total Information Awareness, which was limited by Congress in 2003.

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Computer World:

In a new study that has potentially Orwellian implications, ABI Research projects that revenue for video surveillance software will quadruple over the next five years.

According to ABI Vice President and Research Director Stan Schatt, revenue generated from surveillance software will increase to more than US$900 million in 2013, up from current revenues of US$245 million. Schatt says there are several big drivers for this increase, including increased spending on security systems by the government, on theft prevention systems by retail outlets and on surveillance by market researchers. Additionally, he says that the advent of Wi-Fi has made it possible to place wireless cameras just about anywhere while still sending footage back to a central location.

Looking at the broader picture, Schatt says that technological advances are also increasing the scope and the potential uses of video surveillance. He says that one of the more disturbing uses is the ability of store marketing departments to actually monitor the eyeball movements of customers to figure out what products or displays draw their attention.

“When stores have the ability to observe you as you walk through a store, what I can imagine is that more and more stores will try to basically have a pretty in-depth knowledge of their customers,” he says. “So let’s say for instance the store issues you a discount card that also has a radio frequency ID that identifies who you are. And then let’s say they observe you looking at, but not actually purchasing, movies in the adult video section. Well, the next thing you know you’re getting all these promotional materials for racy movies you’re not even interested in.”

Schatt also notes that more and more banks are looking into installing cameras with face recognition ability to help prevent robberies before they even occur. Thus, when a known bank robber enters a bank, the camera can recognize his face and send out an alert. Casinos are already deploying this sort of face recognition software to monitor their employees, Schatt says, and using it to detect when certain employees enter into unauthorized areas and alerting the security team.

Schatt believes that as more surveillance equipment becomes increasingly digitized and software-reliant, it will increasingly move into the purview of IT departments. And because the surveillance software vastly broadens the extent to which companies and governments can watch people, it will inevitably create privacy concerns that will have to be addressed.

“Down the road our behavior is going to be observed much more frequently, and that has all kind of implications,” he says. “I mean, the fact that they’re actually looking at your eyeball movements shows we’ve reached a whole new realm of surveillance capabilities.”