Has the government already compiled data on every American and assigned a real-time “threat score” to each and every one of us?
The first time I heard this rumor was from a contact who works in finance. This contact deals mostly with funding for tech startups on the West Coast, so he hears a lot of the rumors coming out of the tech centers here in America, such as Silicon Valley. He’s not really a tech guy per se, he mostly deals with bringing in clients early in the process to get them in on the ground floor of exciting new technology companies. So while not engrossed on the technical side of things, he does have his finger on the pulse of what’s hot in the latest tech fields and where the money is coming from.
At the time, the story he ended up telling me did sound plausible, but I never pressed him too much on the details as he seemed to only be recounting what he heard from others.
The story he told me essentially boiled down to a social credit score type system, however it was not for social reasons and instead was seen as a “threat score” for virtually every American.
What my source told me at the time was that several data mining firms had signed contracts with government agencies to work on the program starting well over a decade ago. The goal was to essentially catalog every interaction people have, including phone calls and emails that are then converted into text, and have that put into a database that is then sorted by cutting edge algorithms to seek out connections and similarities.
According to what this source had heard, nothing about this is anonymous. Instead it’s quite the opposite and the databases are built around each person’s real identity, complete with biometric technology to detect people’s individual voices on videos and in phone calls.
After listening to all of this, although it sounded very troubling, nothing I was hearing sounded that far outside of the realm of possibility. I’m sure most of you reading this probably don’t find it that hard to believe either, although most regular folks may be shocked to learn such things exist.
But then something else happened. I ran into another colleague of mine from the financial industry nearly a year after first hearing this rumor. This person is not at all related in any way to the other source.
One summer evening while drinking coffee outside of a local Starbucks, we started to talk about the stories of phones listening in on people and then having ads served to them related to previous conversations.
This person then told me that such things were “nothing” and that there is so much more going on around big tech, machine learning, and data mining that people would not even believe it.
Of course, I pressed him and asked him if he had any specifics, and that’s when things started to really fall into place around this whole rumor of a “threat score” system. The story he began to tell was almost identical to the first rumor I heard about this so-called threat score, but with more details.
This source claimed it started long ago, almost 2 decades ago but has gained tremendous steam and funding in the last 5-7 years. First started as a secret DARPA project to catalogue people’s opinions and political leanings in order to create a type of early detection system for individuals who had been “radicalized” in response to foreign terrorism threats.
However, it quickly grew and started to cover more and more groups that the people managing the system deemed as problematic. This included all types of political groups, writers, journalists, and even celebrities.
But as cloud computing grew more powerful and scaling systems became as easy as pushing a button, the people behind this DARPA program looked to expand it to every citizen they could gather data on, essentially the whole country.
At this point my source told me the program has become so large, that he wouldn’t be surprised if you started finding out about leaks or even whistleblowers, something like the Snowden incident. He claimed within a year or two, a whistleblower will emerge as the system has grown so large and too many people close to the Silicon Valley elite are talking about it.
As he spoke, that really got me thinking about another DARPA project called Life Log. We wrote about Life Log on this site and how it was likely the predecessor of the civilian Facebook. The DARPA Life Log project was ultimately canceled after whistleblowers and those working on the project complained it was becoming too much of a spy tool. It was then shut down, and Facebook was launched just a few weeks later, supposedly created by Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room. However, most people believe Facebook was simply the civilian version of Life Log, now ready for prime time.
As this thought ran through my mind, I asked the source if this is some sort of stand alone project or are big tech companies involved.
According to him, big tech is now 100% involved. In fact, so much so that he claims he has heard from several developers that there are rumors of all the big social media platforms running essentially “duplicate” servers. He described these as totally duplicated but totally separate versions of sites like Facebook.
In real time, data is literally split, one version goes to the live Facebook we all see, another copy goes to the secret duplicate version. This duplicate version is where all the data is gleamed from, so 99.9% of Facebook employees have no idea any of this is happening. The split is handled by a small group within the company and it’s referred to as nothing but data backup and testing.
Once again, this was eerily similar to another program by the NSA that was uncovered by a whistleblower. AT&T had built “splitters” in their data centers where all phone, text, and email traffic was split, one version would go on like normal, the other would be sent directly to NSA computers to be analyzed. All in real time and without anyone knowing.
As you read all of this, some may wonder how these two individuals came across such a top secret program. But that’s not really the case according to these sources. Perhaps if this was being reported 20 years ago, it would have been quite the scoop. But from what I am hearing from my two sources is that this program has grown so large that it has essentially become an open secret among the tech elite. It simply hasn’t broken into the mainstream yet, that’s why my source indicated he expects a whistleblower to come forward soon, similar to the Snowden case.
When I pressed my source on when something like that may happen, he said he couldn’t imagine it being much more than a year. He said there’s simply too many people who have worked on it by now and the cat is out of the bag.
So the question is, will the agencies behind this program recognize the impending whistleblowers and “shut down” the project, similar to DARPA’s Life Log. But then relaunch some sort of civilian platform that essentially does the same thing?
Time will tell, but if no whistleblower comes forward, be on the lookout for a new type of social media platform that suddenly breaks on to the scene seemingly out of nowhere. It may just be the “threat score” program hiding in plain sight.
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