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Your tax dollars at work?

I mean for those of us in the United States…I mean for those of us Americans and businesses who actually pay federal taxes…. :-)

CNET ran this article yesterday that Visible Technologies (based in Bellevue, WA and New York, NY) a company that monitors online social activity and sells the results to clients, has forged a “strategic partnership” with In-Q-Tel:

In-Q-Tel is the not-for-profit, strategic investment firm that works to identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Launched by the CIA in 1999 as a private, independent organization, In-Q-Tel’s mission is to identify and partner with companies developing cutting-edge technologies that serve the national security interests of the United States. Working from an evolving strategic blueprint defining the Intelligence Community’s critical technology needs, In-Q-Tel engages with entrepreneurs, growth companies, researchers, and investors to deliver technologies that provide superior capabilities for the CIA and the larger Intelligence Community.

The deal was first reported by WIRED.

Visible Technologies “helps organizations adopt new ways of gaining actionable insight from social media conversations.” “Visible Technologies helps companies like Microsoft, Hormel, and Xerox listen and learn what consumers are saying about them online and enables individuals to manage and protect their online reputations by helping brands to engage in the right conversations with the right influencers at the right time.” From the press release:

“Visible Technologies’ end-to-end suite, powered by the truCAST engine, encompasses global features that enable real-time visibility into online social conversations regardless of where dialogue is occurring. Additionally, the company’s truREPUTATION solution is a best-in-class online reputation management service that provides both individuals and brands an effective way to repair, protect and proactively promote their reputation in search engine results.”

Visible Technologies crawls over a half million web 2.0 sites each day and scrapes more than a million posts and conversations that take place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTub, Twitter, and Amazon. Visible then “scores each post and labels it as positive, negative, mixed, or neutral. Visible tries to determine how influential a conversation or an author is, and then it gives users a chance to tag posts, forward posts to colleagues, and respond through a web interface. According to WIRED (the article makes fascinating reading), Visible Technologies does not currently touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at least for now. The In-Q-Tel investment is expected to be used to boost Visible’s foreign language capabilities, which already include Arabic, French, Spanish, and nine other languages.

According to WIRED, Dan Vetras, the Visible Technologies chief executive officer, says that the CIA is now an “end customer,” thanks to the In-Q-Tel investment, and that Visible “…just got awarded another one <government client> in the last few days.”

In-Q-Tel spokesperson Donald Tighe told WIRED that it wants Visible Technologies to keep track of foreign social media to determine how issues are playing internationally.

CIA’s charter is for foreign intelligence gathering. Other agencies are responsible for domestic intelligence.

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