Ethical Performance
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Raytheon’s Riot surveillance software raises privacy fears

March 2013

Multinational defence contractor Raytheon has sparked civil liberties concerns with the revelation that it developed a software surveillance package that it claims can predict where individuals will be on certain days and times.

Called Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot), the ‘extreme-scale analytics’ software has been developed to mine trillions of entries on social networks such as Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter.

In a video obtained by the Guardian, Raytheon’s ‘principal investigator’ Brian Urch demonstrated how it constructs a snapshot of an individual’s life, complete with a map of tracked individuals’ associations and relationships, and a top ten list of places they have visited and when.

Raytheon said it shared Riot with the US government and ‘industry organisations’ in a joint R&D project in 2010, but has not sold the software to any clients.

Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “By aspiring to carry out ‘large-scale analytics’ on Americans’ social networking data, the project raises a number of red flags.

“As with any tool, everything depends on how it’s used. But the fact is, we’re living in an age where disparate pieces of information about us are being aggressively mined and aggregated to discover new things about us.”

Raytheon | North America | Data Mining

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