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General News    H2'ed 10/28/13

Big Brother's New Crystal Ball: Washington Develops Online Data Mining Program to Predict Global Political Unrest

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Source: Toward Freedom

The outrage regarding Washington's National Security Agency spying, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has spread across the world, upsetting diplomatic relations and threatening to shift balances of global power. Yet beyond this spying network lies another, lesser known pilot operation within the NSA called the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity's Open Source Indicators Program.

This initiative involves academics working at the behest of a research branch of the NSA who are using US government-collected online data to actually predict future events, such as political protests, pandemics, and economic crises--with a focus on Latin America.

This sci-fi type project to create an intelligence "crystal ball" seeks to develop automated analytics programs using open source information such as Facebook, Tweets, Google searches, and other publicly-accessible data in order to stay one step ahead of current events.

"I think citizens in other countries are already worried," said Robert Albro, Associate Research Professor at American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies. "While, so far as I'm aware, the details of the IARPA's Open Source Indicators Program are not widely-known in Latin America at present, programs of this sort will be understood in the political and diplomatic context of the recent post-Snowden revelations about NSA cyber-espionage in the region, particularly with respect to both Mexico and Brazil."

At a recent gathering at the United Nations, a united group of Latin American presidents confronted the Obama administration about its spying operations in the region, denouncing this affront to regional sovereignty. But the new IARPA program extends these unpopular spying efforts in a new direction.

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Cyril Mychalejko is a writer, teacher, and mountain lover.

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