Raytheon Taps Social Media to Build Tracking Software

Wednesday, 13 Feb 2013 | 10:46 AM ET
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As if you needed another reason to be cautious about what you post, tweet or where you check-in on social networks, governments now have access to software that uses data from your social media accounts to track you.

The defense company Raytheon has created software called Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot) that taps user data from social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social networking sites to track where people are and predict where they will go.

(Read More: Is Your Business Ready for Cyber War?)

Raytheon, one of the world's largest defense contractors, would not go into specifics about whether it has sold the software to any government clients, but it did issue a statement that implied it has approval to sell the software outside of the U.S.

"Raytheon, as a leader in cybersecurity, offers advanced capabilities to government customers. We're focused on providing them the best available solutions that meet their constantly evolving requirements," the company said in a statement to CNBC.com.

(Read More: Fed Says Internal Site Breached by Hackers )

When CNBC specifically asked about whether or not Raytheon plans to sell the technology to other governments, the company did not respond.

Basically, Riot is a stalking technology that exploits data that social media users share, sometimes unknowingly.

(Read More: Execs Say Cyberattacks a Top Threat: AIG Survey)

For example, one way the software locates people is by the encoding of longitude and latitude that is embedded in photos taken by smartphones. Riot can calculate all the locations images were taken and create report that shows a pattern of all the places a person visits. The software can do the same thing using information posted on Foursquare.

Click here to watch a video, originally obtained by The Guardian, where Raytheon's principal investigator Brian Urch explains exactly how Riot works.

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