The FBI wills to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and other sites for real-time information that could help investigations.
For this its Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) posted a ‘Request for Information (RFI)’ online last week seeking companies to build a social network monitoring system for the FBI. The document spells out what the bureau wants from such a system and invites potential contractors to reply soon.
It narrates that the application should provide information about possible domestic and global threats superimposed onto maps “using mash-up technology”.
Other features the FBI hopes its data-mining tool would include the ability to automatically “search and scrape” social-networking and open-source news websites for information about breaking world events. It also wants to give users a tool with ability to do relevant keyword searches on sites such as Facebook, CNN, Fox News, and other popular information outlets on the Internet.
Google Maps 3D and Yahoo Maps are considered by FBI to set up an alert system and a language translation feature is also in talks.
However, privacy campaigners, including Privacy International (a London-based group), are concerned because the move could have implications for free speech.
“Social networks are about connecting people with other people – if one person is the target of police monitoring, there will be a dragnet effect in which dozens, even hundreds, of innocent users also come under surveillance,” said Gus Hosein, the group’s executive director.