from the publicly-posted-information,-searchable-by-the-public dept
Intelligence gathering on intelligence gatherers. Watching the watchers. Whatever you want to call it, Transparency Toolkit is doing it. It has gathered 27,000 publicly-posted resumes from members of the "intelligence community" and turned them into a searchable database.
The database -- ICWatch -- was put together using software specifically constructed by Transparency Watch (and posted at Github). Not only can the database be searched through TW's front end, but the data is also available in raw form for data-mining purposes.
Some may find this searchable database to be a form of doxxing, but TW says that isn't the intent. Instead, it's meant to give the public additional insight into the inner workings of the intelligence community, as well as allowing researchers and journalists to sniff out information on still-unrevealed surveillance programs.
"These resumes include many details about the names and functions of secret surveillance programs, including previously unknown secret codewords," Transparency Toolkit said.What Transparency Watch has done is simplified a task anyone could have performed prior to the compilation of the ICWatch database. In fact, nearly two years ago, the ACLU's Chris Soghoian pointed out that public LinkedIn profiles were coughing up classified program names posted by intelligence community members in their listed skills and work history.
"We are releasing these resumes in searchable form with the hopes that people can use them to better understand mass surveillance programs and research trends in the intelligence community."
This is all Transparency Watch has done -- only in aggregate and accessible to those without a LinkedIn account.
The data was collected from LinkedIn public profiles using search terms like known codewords, intelligence agencies and departments, intelligence contractors, and industry terms, the group said.What Soghoian noted back in 2013 remains true. Searches for known NSA programs frequently bring up other program names, all posted publicly by employees and contractors with an apparent disregard for the agency's "everything is a secret" policies.
A search for "PINWALE" brings up a profile listing the following:
Cultweave, UIS, Nucleon, CREST, Pinwale, Anchory, Association, Dishfire, SharkFinn, GistQueue, GoldPoint, MainwayAnd another listing these terms:
Snort, TRAFFICTHIEF, PINWALE, BOUNDLESS INFORMANT, BLARNEY, BULLRUN, CARNIVOREYou can also find out who's involved in Predator drone flights. Or who's participated in the NSA's Tailored Access Operations.
Some may argue that this algorithmic collection of resumes and LinkedIn profiles may be dragging some people under the "intelligence community" umbrella that shouldn't really be there. That's likely true, but this is one of those inescapable outcomes of dragnet operations. They may also argue that turning over this information to the public may cause some of those listed to be subjected to harassment or put them in danger. Also, this may unfortunately be true as well.
But there's a simple solution, albeit one that can't be applied retroactively.
As the government so frequently points out to us, publicly-posted information carries no expectation of privacy. The same goes for government employees and government contractors in sensitive positions who choose to disclose information about their skills and employment publicly. If any danger to these people exists, it has always existed. ICWatch may make the job simpler, but it's done nothing any person can't do on their own, using simple search tools.