Google and the CIA are teaming up to invest in a web monitoring software called Recorded Future, which scours the web to find connections between people and events, creating new privacy concerns when Google is already the subject of multiple investigations.
Recorded Future, which describes itself as “the ultimate tool for open-source intelligence”, provides analysis of information and trends online to companies building brand names, but also provides its services to intelligence agencies as part of counter-terrorism measures. The CIA’s investment subsidiary, In-Q-Tel, clearly recognises this potential and is to pump upwards of $10 million into the firm.
Google is also to invest around $10 million, raising numerous eyebrows at a time when it is trying to downplay privacy concerns over its Streetview snooping disaster. The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK gave the search giant the all clear, but this latest investment will be watched closely by them and other data protection groups across the world.
The disturbing potential of Recorded Future is revealed in its own manifesto, which suggests the possibility of predicting the curve before it happens, which puts it in a similar field as IBM’s recently launched predictive crime software.
Already Recorded Future is being likened to Minority Report, which shows the potential abuse of a system of predicting crime, a comparison that was also levelled at IBM’s software, and staunchly denied by the company.
The potential this holds for Google as an advertising agent is huge, which is most likely the area the company is focusing on. If it can add to its current analytical software to find trends in advertising and increase its revenue through that, it’s onto a winner. However, the fact that the CIA are also involved, with an equal investment, makes things appear a lot more suspicious.