Future Tech

Google and the CIA Invest in Web Monitoring

Recorded Future, an early-stage technology company in Massachusetts, landed some pretty big backers: the CIA and Google via their respective investment arms In-Q-Tel and Google Ventures. Like other web analytics firms, Recorded Future monitors thousands of websites, Twitter feeds and blogs to produce data on trends of web discussion. But, the company also uses the data to track “momentum” for a given event and can use that information to predict the future by spotting trends and upcoming events early. “The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases,” said Christopher Ahlberg, the CEO of Recorded Future and a former Swedish Army Ranger. Open source intelligence, a term for public information, is becoming an increasingly important commodity for American spy services. This is the first time Google and the intelligence community have invested in the same venture. For Google detractors, this may serve as another example of the company straying from its “don’t be evil” code and getting cozy with the government. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is co-chair of Obama’s task force on innovation [link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-06-23/eric-schmidt-his-innovation-panel-to-solve-americas-problems/]. The relationship with Recorded Future may also feed growing concerns over how Google uses and stores the vast streams of data it collects on Web users.