The Raytheon Company is one of the top five defense contractors in the United States. Ever since 9/11/2001, the U.S. government has been working hard to increase national security. Ironically, this has resulted in many U.S. citizens feeling the need for protection from the prying eyes of big brother. At the same time, millions of Americans are online every day, voluntarily posting information about their lives. The latest security software uses social media activity as well as GPS tracking developed by Raytheon is called Riot, which stands for Rapid Information Overlay Technology.
This security software tries to cover all bases of accessible information. The goal is to prevent threats to our national security. It’s no secret that the government monitors its citizens. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years, I’ll briefly explain. Communication is passively monitored with security software, like Riot, for certain “red flag” words and phrases. As you might expect, these words are typically violent or threatening to national security, such as “bomb”. When someone is determined to be some level of threat, they are put on a watch list.
In the name of national security, the government can access just about any recordable information on a citizen, including phone calls, texts, instant messages, emails and basically anything posted online. Riot collects all social media and GPS tracking data available for a specified individual, documenting status updates on Facebook, tweets on Twitter and check-ins on Foursquare. The information is used to track where the person is or was and what he or she might be planning.
By tracking the movements of people considered national threats, police can move in that much quicker if the threat becomes more imminent. With months or years of location information about an individual, police can better determine where that person will be in the future. The ACLU will continue to push back against security software like Riot, but feelings are quite mixed on the need for privacy in the modern age. The old sentiment of “if you don’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to hide” is still very popular among many Americans.