Sophisticated tracking technology which can model the future behaviour of social media users and even track their movements has been developed by US defence contractor Raytheon.
Harvesting content from the likes of Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter the software can build a detailed model of the lives of individuals, raising fears that it could be usurped by authoritarian governments to monitor and control people online.
Known as Rapid Information Overlay Technology (Riot) it is currently only available to the US government and has not been made available to commercial interests.
UK newspaper the guardian claims to have received a video demonstrating the technique in action, depicting a Raytheon employee being modeled based on where they had used their smartphone, log-in times and the location of online photographs.
A voiceover intones: “We know where ‘Nick’s’ going, we know what Nick looks like, now we want to try to predict where he may be in the future.”
A Raytheon spokesperson said: “Riot is a big data-analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into usable information to help meet our nation’s rapidly changing security needs.
“Its innovative privacy features are the most robust that we are aware of, enabling the sharing and analysis of data without personally identifiable information [such as social security numbers, bank or other financial account information] being disclosed."