These program titles are getting sillier by the day…
If the NSA isn’t careful, pretty soon we won’t be able to to tell the difference between the names of their secretive spying operations and the next upcoming Android firmware release.
Called “Squeaky Dolphin”, the newest program revealed by Edward Snowden is designed to not only track events like the Arab Spring that are happening on the ground, but also provide the ability to predict uprisings or protests before they even happen.
After the Spring in 2012, a smaller, but passionate group of rebels attempted a similar protest in Bahrain. Thanks to the monitoring systems provided by the United Kingdom, officials in the country were able to respond to the threat before it ever got a chance to swell out of control, using the realtime data fed in by services like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to tip the authorities off where the gatherings were taking place.
Confirmed in documents given to NBC News by former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, the PowerPoint slides point to various metadata signals which could be paired with .EXGIF data stored inside images at are uploaded to various social media websites. In the case of the Bahrain rebellion, from these bits and pieces the computers at the agency were then able to form a larger picture of what was happening as the movement made its way throughout the city square, and fed that information directly to the local authorities which enabled them to shut things down before they ever got a chance to get off the ground.
Responding to the allegations, a spokeswoman for the GCHQ was quoted as saying that the agency does not spy on “ordinary citizens”, however she refused to go into detail about what exact coordinates designates someone as being “ordinary” or otherwise. The system is also capable of creating unique psychological profiles using the bulk data that was pulled in from other departments of their clandestine organization, matching the character traits of specific users to indicators like what web browser they used, pages they liked on Facebook, or what videos they watched on YouTube.
As usual, the GCHQ attempted to reassure the wary public that they had their best interests at heart and that although the scale of the problem looks somewhat large, we’ve simply taken their internal memos out of context and that only very specific targets are of interest to themselves and the NSA.