01:56 GMT +315 December 2017
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    Pentagon-Collected Surveillance Data on Internet Users Becomes Public

    © Sputnik/ Natalia Seliverstova
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    A massive database containing 1.8 billion internet posts collected from social media, news sites and forums by the US Department of Defense has been publicly exposed, according to the US cybersecurity firm UpGuard.

    NEW YORK (Sputnik) — The three cloud-based storage servers containing massive amounts of on-line data collected by the US Department of Defense has become available for public download, the US cybersecurity firm UpGuard said on Friday.

    "The UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now disclose that three publicly downloadable cloud-based storage servers exposed a massive amount of data collected in apparent Department of Defense intelligence-gathering operations," UpGuard analyst Dan O'Sullivan wrote.

    The exposed data, collected by Pentagon unified combatant commands CENTCOM and PACOM, is estimated to contain nearly 2 billion internet posts gathered over the past eight years. The content includes excerpts from news sites, comment sections, web forums and social media platforms like Facebook, according to O'Sullivan.

    O'Sullivan wrote that the data collection raises serious questions of privacy and civil liberties.

    The vast number of benign posts originating from the United States could also violate laws against Pentagon domestic surveillance, O’Sullivan explained.

    O’Sullivan noted that some of the collected information appears to correlate with US national security concerns, such as with posts concerning Iraqi and Pakistani politics.

    Defunct private-sector government contractor VendorX built and operated the software employed to create the exposed data stores, which also demonstrates the threat of using third-party vendors for high-level operations, O'Sullivan wrote.

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    database, cybersecurity, surveillance, Pentagon, United States
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