Reports have emerged that tools provided by Oracle are being used by the police to find targets in social media posts and suppress protests. This tool is being exported outside the United States, and it is said that it is trying to start selling in China.
In 2011, Oracle acquired Endeca, which develops data discovery software, and announced a platform called Endeca Information Discovery. Endeca Information Discovery is a tool that can be used in fields such as data marketing, but according to Oracle documents obtained from the report, the Chicago police were using it as a tool to match criminal records, emergency and protest tweets.
For example, when the 2012 NATO summit was held in Chicago, massive protests took place. Endeca Information Discovery has a feature that, when someone posts a specific word on social media, marks the post in the software 0.5 seconds later and remains in the software even if the post is deleted, so Chicago Police can focus on the word protest or sort negative emotions. It was used to suppress riots.
After 9 years, Endeca Information Discovery has steadily increased its number of customers, and it is said that it is being used not only by the Chicago police but also by police in Argentina, Finland, and the United Arab Emirates.
Founded in 1999, Endeca has grown in line with the trend of the big data era and formed a strategic alliance with the CIA-run venture capital (In-Q-Tel) in 2003. In addition, Palantir, which analyzes big data, announced an investment. Two years later, IQT announced the introduction of Endeca to the Defense Intelligence Agency. At that time, as interest in counter-terrorism grew, Endeca became one of the tools for government agencies to visualize data.
According to federal agency spending records, Endeca eventually acquired clients from the FBI, the U.S. Cyber Command, and the Army. In 2008, Endeka signed a contract with the Guantanamo concentration camp, where people arrested for allegedly possessing terrorism-related information in the conflict in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, and has a spending record until 2019.
In the early 2000s, when Endeca acquired a client from a government agency, Oracle established a client base with the police. The Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) project opened between the Chicago Police Department and Oracle stores data about people’s arrest records and organization members. Meanwhile, CLEAR is being pointed out as a hotbed of discrimination against blacks, and activists are demanding that the content be deleted.
Until Oracle acquired Endeca for $1.1 billion in 2011, police said they were interested in data-driven activities, such as monitoring social media posts and identifying crime hot spots. In fact, according to Oracle, the takeover of Endeca changed while the police were running out of political protests. On May 20, 2012, the year after the takeover, when police attacked protesters, a former Oracle employee tweeted that Endeca was processing 8,000 tweets per day.
In this explanation, it is said that the police used Endeca Information Discovery to search targets based on 15,000 cases of information obtained from the National Counter-Terrorism Center and to extract information related to the person’s whereabouts. He also mentioned the use of software to help police sort posts by influence score and filter by negative sentiment to focus on specific users. It is also possible for police to scrape social media posts from Endeca Information Discovery or use criminal case or arrest notes with years of location information.
It’s unclear whether Chicago police are still using Endeca Information Discovery at this point, but it is pointed out that Oracle is trying to sell these criminal investigation tools to China as well. Some point out that from a marketing point of view, having a US government agency as a client is opposite to selling tools to China. Oracle CEO is a member of the U.S. government-led National Security Council for Artificial Intelligence, and has also said that it is against our values for the Chinese government to use AI for surveillance. Endeca Information Discovery’s entry into China contradicts Oracle’s claims, but reports say Oracle employees have obtained material promoting the software for a Chinese government surveillance project. It is pointed out that exporting tools tested in the United States is a trend seen by major technology companies other than Oracle.
In addition, there are reports that such data retrieval software is not only Oracle but also Dataminr software, an AI company affiliated with Twitter, was used to suppress the Black Matter protests. Related information can be found here.