NSA Eyes Social Networking Sites

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It was revealed last month that the National Security Agency has been tracking the phone calls of millions of Americans.

Now, according to Newscientist.com, it looks like the agency has plans to expand the program to include the monitoring of social network sites such as MySpace.

Individuals often give out all sorts of personal information on social networking sites, from pets’ names to sexual and political preferences.

“I am continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves,” said Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, an encryption software maker.

New Scientist suggests that the NSA could combine tidbits gathered from social networking sites with data culled from online purchases, cell phone transmissions, or any number of other sources.

One issue that prevents this from happening frequently right now is the multitude of incompatible formats in which that information is stored. But as a new structure known as RDF comes into use, this difficulty will pass. “RDF turns the web into a kind of universal spreadsheet that is readable by computers as well as people,” says David de Roure of the University of Southampton.

Anupam Joshi of the University of Maryland has explored the technology as it might be used by the NSA. “It certainly made relationship finding between people much easier,” he said. “It picked up softer [non-obvious] conflicts we would not have seen before.”

This might help the NSA sniff out groups of terrorists, money launderers or blacklisted groups, according Amit Sheth, a co-researcher.

The information that the NSA could access through social networking sites wouldn’t be anything that wasn’t already viewable to any other members who came along.

Still, there’s something a tad creepy about the idea of the men in black looking at your pictures of Fluffy.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

NSA Eyes Social Networking Sites
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