Meet Prism’s little brother: Socmint.
By Paul Wright 26th June 2013. Find Full Article Here:-
For the past two years a tight-lipped and little talked about unit within the Metropolitan Police has been conducting blanket surveillance of British citizens’ public social media conversations.
Following an unintentional leak and a detailed investigation we are finally able to see some of the capabilities of this 17-man team — some of which are truly alarming.
The Prism scandal engulfing US and UK intelligence agencies has blown the debate wide open over what privacy means in the digital age and whether the internet risks becoming a kind of Stasi 2.0.
The extent of the UK’s involvement in this type of mass surveillance — which already appears exhaustive — shows just what a potential intelligence goldmine social media data can be.
But the monitoring of our online trail goes beyond the eavesdroppers in GCHQ.
For the past two years a secretive unit in the Metropolitan Police has been developing the tools for blanket surveillance of the public’s social media conversations.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a staff of 17 officers in the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) has been scanning the public’s tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook profiles, and anything else UK citizens post in the public online sphere.
The intelligence gathering technique — sometimes known as Social Media Intelligence or Socmint — has been used in conjunction with an alarming array of sophisticated analytical tools.
“Sentiment analysis” that can determine your mood; “horizon scanning” that tries to pre-empt disorder and crime; facial recognition software that can track down individuals; geo-location that is able to pinpoint your whereabouts, and profiling that can map who you are and what circles you move in. All innovative techniques used in the private sector, and all adapted for law enforcement and surveillance.
As the head of opensource intelligence in the Met, Umut Ertogral, revealed in May during what he intended to be a private presentation at an Australian security conference [according to a couple of Met sources, conference organisers ‘forgot’ to tell the audience that the talk was off the record]:
“[Social media] almost acts like CCTV on the ground for us. Just like the private sector use it for marketing and branding, we’ve developed something to listen in and see what the public are thinking.”