Web software designed by the defense firm Raytheon can scour Facebook, Twitter and check-in sites such as Foursquare to create an instant dossier covering a suspect’s likely geographic locations and activities.
Raytheon calls it Rapid Information Overlay Technology (RIOT), and privacy advocates think it goes too far. “This sort of software allows the government to surveil everyone,” Ginger McCall, attorney and director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Open Government program.
“It scoops up a bunch of information about totally innocent people. There seems to be no legitimate reason to get this, other than that they can.”
While some “terrorists,” or those who might be threats to national security, use social networking, it’s doubtful many of them show check-ins at local clubs or coffee shops, said McCall.
“The likelihood of this actually pulling in actual terrorists is low — it seems to be a lot of white noise,” she said.