Award for spying on chat rooms

According to Technology Review Weblog, the US National Science Foundation and the Intelligence Community award $157K to study new techniques for automatically spying on chat rooms.

This project aims at a fully automated surveillance system for data collection and analysis in Internet chatrooms to discover hidden groups. The surveillance is done in the form of statistical profiling for a particular chatter, a group of chatters, or for the entire chatroom. The statistical profiles are used to devise algorithms to determine chatters and their partners and answer to queries including (i) “in which chatrooms topic A is discussed”, (ii) “who is chatting about topic A in chatroom X”, (iii) “is topic A is a hot one in chatroom X” etc. Thus, the proposed system could aid the intelligence community to discover hidden communities and communication patterns in chatrooms without human intervention.”