New 'Riot' software draws ire from rights groups
Sydney: Rights groups have raised concerns over secretly developed software that can track people's movements and predict future behaviour by combining data from social networking websites.
A video obtained by an English newspaper revealed how an "extreme-scale analytics" system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
Raytheon says it has not sold the software, named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology, to any clients.
The US-based firm, however, acknowledged that the technology was shared with the American government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010.
It said the technology was shared to help build a national security system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace, the Guardian reports.
Using Riot it is possible to gain a picture of a person's life, their friends, the places they visit charted on a map, in little more than a few clicks of a button.
According to the paper, Ginger McCall, a lawyer at the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Centre, said the Raytheon technology raised concerns about how user data could be covertly collected without oversight or regulation.
He pointed out that users may post information that they believe will be viewed only by their friends, but instead, it is being viewed by government officials or pulled in by data collection services like the Riot search.