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From Association of Computing Machinery TechNet digest for June 9, 2006

"Pentagon Sets Its Sights on Social Networking Websites"
New Scientist (06/10/06); Marks, Paul

The NSA is funding research into technologies that could extract meaning
from the mountains of personal data posted on social networking Web sites.
The NSA research could bring the vision of the Semantic Web closer to
reality, as it could combine information from social networking sites with
other data, such as banking, retail, and property records to create
comprehensive profiles of individual users.  The focus on social
networking sites comes as Americans are still reeling from the revelation
that the NSA has been collecting phone call records since shortly after
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.  The NSA plans to conduct similar
surveillance of the Web, piecing together a composite picture of
individuals by analyzing their contact networks.  The Semantic Web will
make the comparison of data in disparate formats possible thanks to the
common structure known as the Resource Development Framework (RDF).  "RDF
turns the Web into a kind of universal spreadsheet that is readable by
computers as well as people,"  said David de Roure, an advisor to the W3C.
Every piece of numerical data would have its own tag, and different
references to the same concept would link to each other.  While the
Semantic Web is expected to transform Internet search, it will also make
it much easier to snoop into people's private lives.  Nevertheless, the
organization known as the Advanced Research Development Activity, charged
with disbursing NSA funds, has taken an active interest in harvesting
social networking data to make meaningful connections between people.

  Barry Wellman         Professor of Sociology        NetLab Director
  wellman at

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162

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