The Future of Spying

Beth Davidz
Wed May 16, 8:00 PM ET

A relatively unknown branch of the CIA is investing millions of taxpayer dollars in technology startups that, together, paint a map for the future of spying. Some of these technologies can pry into the personal lives of Americans not just for the government but for big businesses as well.

The CIA's venture capitalist arm, In-Q-Tel, has invested at least $185 million in startups since 1999, molding these companies' products into technologies the intelligence community can use.

More than 60 percent of In-Q-Tel’s current investments are in companies that specialize in automatically collecting, sifting through and understanding oceans of information, according to an analysis by the Medill School of Journalism. While In-Q-Tel has successfully helped push data analysis technology ahead, implementing it within the government for national security remains a challenge, and one of In-Q-Tel’s former CEOs, Gilman Louie, has concerns about whether privacy and civil liberties will be protected.

News reports about programs like Total Information Awareness -- an anti-terrorism government program that would have mined not only government data but also personal information -- and National Security Agency wiretaps, have sparked criticism by lawmakers, privacy advocates and the public.

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