Google, Facebook, the IT Sector and the CIA



The EyeOpener- Exposing ‘In-Q –Tel’: The CIA’s Own Venture Capital Firm


Google, Facebook, the IT Sector and the CIA


I n-Q-Tel was formed by the CIA in 1999 as a private, not-for-profit venture capital firm with the specific task of delivering technology to America's intelligence community. Publicly, In-Q-Tel markets itself as an innovative way to leverage the power of the private sector by identifying key emerging technologies and providing companies with the funding to bring those technologies to market. In reality, however, what In-Q-Tel represents is a dangerous blurring of the lines between the public and private sectors in a way that makes it difficult to tell where the American intelligence community ends and the IT sector begins.

In-Q-Tel has generated a number of stories since its inception based on what can only be described as the "creepiness" factor of its investments in overtly Orwellian technologies.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting documented facts and cases on the CIA’s privately owned venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, in which well-connected board members drawn from the private sector profit from the investments made with CIA funds that come from the taxpayer.


*The Transcript for this video is now available at Corbett Report: Click Here





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Gainspan Corporation manufactures low power Wi-Fi semiconductors that form the heart of modern remote sensing, monitoring and control technologies.

Recorded Future Inc. is a Massachusetts web startup that monitors the web in real time and claims its media analytics search engine can be used to predict the future.

Keyhole Corp. created the 3D earth visualization technology that became the core of Google Earth.

The common denominator? All of these companies, and hundreds more cutting edge technology and software startups, have received seed money and investment funding from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s own venture capital firm.

Welcome, this is James Corbett of The Corbett Report with your Eyeopener Report for

For decades, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has been the American governmental body tasked with conducting high-risk, high-payoff research into cutting edge science and technology. Responsible most famously for developing the world’s first operational packet switching network that eventually became the core of the Internet, DARPA tends to garner headlines these days for some of its more outlandish research proposals and is generally looked upon a a blue-sky research agency whose endeavours only occasionally bear fruit.

In the post-9/11 consolidation of the American intelligence community, IARPA, or the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, was created to serve as the spymaster’s equivalent of DARPA’s defense research.

In contrast to this, In-Q-Tel was formed by the CIA in 1999 as a private, not-for-profit venture capital firm with the specific task of delivering technology to America’s intelligence community.

Publicly, In-Q-Tel markets itself as an innovative way to leverage the power of the private sector by identifying key emerging technologies and providing companies with the funding to bring those technologies to market.

In reality, however, what In-Q-Tel represents is a dangerous blurring of the lines between the public and private sectors in a way that makes it difficult to tell where the American intelligence community ends and the IT sector begins.

In-Q-Tel has generated a number of stories since its inception based on what can only be described as the “creepiness” factor of its investments in overtly Orwellian technologies.

In 2004, KMWorld published an interview with Greg Pepus, then In-Q-Tel’s senior director of federal and intelligence community strategy, about some of their investments. Pepus was especially proud of the CIA’s investment in Inxight, a company that offered software for data mining unstructured data sources like blogs and websites with analytical processing.

In 2006 it was revealed that AT&T had provided NSA eavesdroppers full access to its customer’s internet traffic, and that the American intelligence community was illegally scooping up reams of internet data wholesale. The data mining equipment installed in the NSA back door, a Narus STA 6400, was developed by a company whose partners were funded by In-Q-Tel.

Also in 2006, News21 reported on an In-Q-Tel investment in CallMiner, a company developing technology for turning recorded telephone conversations into searchable databases. In late 2005 it was revealed that the NSA had been engaged in an illegal warrantless wiretapping program since at least the time of the 9/11 attacks, monitoring the private domestic phone calls of American citizens in breach of their fourth amendment rights.

In 2009, the Telegraph reported on In-Q-Tel’s investment in Visible Technologies, a company specializing in software that monitors what people are saying on social media websites like YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and Amazon. The software is capable of real-time communications tracking, trend monitoring, and even sentiment analysis that categorizes blog posts and comments as positive, negative or neutral. Just last month, the Federal Reserve tendered a Request For Proposal for just this type of software so the privately owned central bank could monitor what people are saying about it online.

Two of the names that come up most often in connection with In-Q-Tel, however, need no introduction: Google and Facebook.

The publicly available record on the Facebook/In-Q-Tel connection is tenuous. Facebook received $12.7 million in venture capital from Accel, whose manager, James Breyer, now sits on their board. He was formerly the chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, whose board included Gilman Louie, then the CEO of In-Q-Tel. The connection is indirect, but the suggestion of CIA involvement with Facebook, however tangential, is disturbing in the light of Facebook’s history of violating the privacy of its users.

Google’s connection to In-Q-Tel is more straightforward, if officially denied. In 2006, ex-CIA officer Robert David Steele told Homeland Security Today that Google “has been taking money and direction for elements of the US Intelligence Community, including the Office of Research and Development at the Central Intelligence Agency, In-Q-Tel, and in all probability, both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command.” Later that year, a blogger claimed that an official Google spokesman had denied the claims, but no official press statement was released.

Steele’s accusation is not the only suggestion of American intelligence involvement with Google, however.

In 2005, In-Q-Tel sold over 5,000 shares of Google stock. The shares are widely presumed to have come from In-Q-Tel’s investment in Keyhole Inc., which was subsequently bought out by Google, but this is uncertain.

In 2010, it was announced that Google was working directly with the National Security Agency to secure its electronic assets.

Also in 2010, Wired reported that In-Q-Tel and Google had jointly provided venture capital funding to Recorded Future Inc., a temporal analytics search engine company that analyzes tens of thousands of web sources to predict trends and events.

But as potentially alarming as In-Q-Tel’s connections to internet giants like Facebook and Google are, and as disturbing as its interest in data mining technologies may be, the CIA’s venture capital arm is interested in more than just web traffic monitoring.

The In-Q-Tel website currently lists two “practice areas,” “Information and Communication Technologies” and “Physical and Biological Technologies.” The latter field consists of “capabilities of interest” such as “The on-site determination of individual human traits for IC purposes” and “Tracking and/or authentication of both individuals and objects.” In-Q-Tel also lists two areas that are “on its radar” when it comes to biotech: Nano-bio Convergence and Physiological Intelligence. Detailed breakdowns of each area explain that the intelligence community is interested in, amongst other things, self-assembling batteries, single molecule detectors, targeted drug delivery platforms, and sensors that can tell where a person has been and what substances he has been handling from “biomarkers” like trace compounds in the breath or samples of skin.

In the years since its formation, many have been led to speculate about In-Q-Tel and its investments, but what requires no speculation is an understanding that a privately owned venture capital firm, created by and for the CIA, in which well-connected board members drawn from the private sector can then profit from the investments made with CIA funds that itself come from the taxpayer represent an erosion of the barrier between the public and private spheres that should give even the most credulous pause for thought.

What does it mean that emerging technology companies are becoming wedded to the CIA as soon as their technology shows promise?

What can be the public benefit in fostering and encouraging technologies which can be deployed for spying on all internet users, including American citizens, in direct contravention of the CIA’s own prohibitions against operating domestically?

If new software and technology is being brought to market by companies with In-Q-Tel advisors on their boards, what faith can anyone purchasing American technologies have that their software and hardware is not designed with CIA backdoors to help the American intelligence community achieve its vision of “Total Information Awareness”?

Rather than scrutinizing each individual investment that In-Q-Tel makes, perhaps an institutional approach is required.

At this point, the American people have to ask themselves whether they want the CIA, an agency that has participated in the overthrow of foreign, democratically-elected governments, an agency that has implanted fake stories in the news media to justify American war interests, an agency that at this very moment is engaged in offensive drone strikes, killing suspected “insurgents” and civilians alike in numerous theaters around the world, should be entrusted with developing such close relationships with the IT sector, or whether In-Q-Tel should be scrapped for good.

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  1. Octium says:

04/09/2016 at 8:27 am

CIA’s Venture Capital Arm Is Funding Skin Care Products That Collect DNA

KINCENTIAL SCIENCES, a company with an innovative line of cosmetic products marketed as a way to erase blemishes and soften skin… Documents obtained by The Intercept reveal that the firm has also attracted interest and funding from In-Q-Tel”

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  1. Corbett says:

04/09/2016 at 11:24 pm

Thanks for the tip. I’ve just tweeted this and it’s in this week’s newsletter.

Log in to Reply



    CIA has injected Wi-Fi network with risk of unprecedented 'Krack' hacking attack say European IT experts

  3. The Krack Attack is the first flaw found in the WPA Wi-Fi encryption technique in 14 years

  4. By James Titcomb For The Telegraph

  5. Every Wi-Fi connection is potentially vulnerable to an unprecedented security flaw that allows hackers to snoop on internet traffic, researchers have revealed.

    The vulnerability is the first to be found in the modern encryption techniques that have been used to secure Wi-Fi networks for the last 14 years.

    In theory, it allows an attacker within range of a Wi-Fi network to inject computer viruses into internet networks, and read communications like passwords, credit card numbers and photos sent over the internet.

    The so-called “Krack” attack has been described as a “fundamental flaw” in wireless security techniques by experts. Apple, Android and Windows software are all susceptible to some version of the vulnerability, which is not fixed by changing Wi-Fi passwords.

    It seems to affect all Wi-Fi networks, it’s a fundamental flaw in the underlying protocol, even if you’ve done everything right [your security] is broken,” said Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Cyber Security.

    [It means] you can’t trust your network, you can’t assume that what’s going between your PC and router is secure.”

    Most modern Wi-Fi networks have their traffic encrypted by a protocol known as WPA or WPA-2, which has existed since 2003 and until now has never been broken. This protects data as it travels from a computer or smartphone to a router, stopping hackers and spies from monitoring networks or injecting malicious code into the transfer.

    Connecting to a secure network involves a four-way “handshake” between a device and a router to ensure that nobody else can decrypt the traffic. Researcher Mathy Vanhoef of the University of Leuven in Belgium found a way to install a new “key” used to encrypt the communications onto the network, allowing a hacker to gain access to the data. This could involve passwords, credit card numbers, photos and messages sent over a network to be stolen, or cyber attacks to be inserted into the traffic.


    The attack cannot be carried out remotely, an attacker would have to be in range of a Wi-Fi network to carry it out. It would also not work on secured websites - those that use https at the start of their web address instead of http.

    Prof Woodward said that the only way to fix the flaw would be to manually replace or patch every router in people’s homes. He said that while the attack was not technically easy, tools would soon spring up allowing criminals to carry out the attack.

    Related Topics

  6. Cyber attacks

  7. University of Surrey

  8. Viruses

  9. Internet security

  10. Internet




By Tim Johnson




After stealing and releasing 10 episodes of the fifth season of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” a month before its official premiere, a shadowy hacking group now is threatening to release shows by four other networks unless the networks’ pay a ransom.

It’s a sign of things to come. The future is being hacked, and there’s no certainty where it might end. In today’s digital world, hackers can steal an ever-growing number of secrets.

If they can steal unreleased television shows, could they also spoil the Oscar ceremony by stealing and threatening to reveal the winners ahead of time? How about announcements of Nobel prizes? Or product launches from Apple and Tesla?

In a fast-paced world, people don’t want to wait for staged announcements designed for collective suspense. Criminal hackers seek to profit from that desire. For better or worse, they steal – and reveal – the future.

A previously unknown person or group calling itself “thedarkoverlord” announced on Twitter Saturday that it had released the “Orange is the New Black” shows on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay because Netflix refused to pay a ransom.


Let's try to be a bit more direct, Netflix:
thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 28, 2017

Netflix said the matter was in the hands of “the appropriate law enforcement authorities.” The hacking group hinted that its work was only beginning.

Oh, what fun we’re all going to have. We’re not playing any games anymore,” it said in one weekend tweet.

The hackers said they now hold unreleased shows from ABC, Fox, National Geographic and IFC and would release them if ransoms weren’t forthcoming.

Who is next on the list? FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Oh, what fun we're all going to have. We're not playing any games anymore.
thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 29, 2017

The Netflix brouhaha began Friday afternoon with a brief tweet from the “thedarkoverlord” saying, “Let’s try to be a bit more direct, Netflix.”

The tweet carried a link to a site on Pirate Bay with the first episode of season five of “Orange is the New Black.” At 11:36 a.m. Saturday, nine more episodes were posted. Season five contains 13 episodes but the hackers said they obtained the shows before the final episodes were available.

It didn’t have to be this way, Netflix. You’re going to lose a lot more money in all of this than what our modest offer was. We’re quite ashamed to breathe the same air as you,” the hackers said in a statement posted on, then removed from,, a popular site for sharing text.

A website that follows developments related to piracy and file-sharing, Torrent Freak, said it had been in touch with the hackers and learned the stolen episodes were filched from Larson Studios, an audio post-production facility in Hollywood. Larson Studios couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

Torrent Freak published excerpts of a “contract” that the hackers sought to have Larson Studios sign in exchange setting the ransom payment terms. The document called for a payment of 50 bitcoin, which at current value is about $66,100.

The spelling in the contract and in statements on indicate the hackers are from Britain or areas of the world that follow British, rather than U.S., spelling practices.

[RELATED: Spooked by spike in cyber extortion, businesses are stockpiling bitcoin for payoffs]

Netflix was scheduled to release season five of “Orange is the New Black” on June 9.

The hackers did not say which programs from other networks it has obtained.

We’re not quite done yet, though. We’re calling you out: ABC, National Geographic, Fox, IFC, and of course Netflix, still. There’s more Netflix on the feasting menu soon (in addition to the other studios, of course), but we’ll get to that later. Enjoy the fruits of _our_ labour,” the statement says.

Larson Studios also does post-production work on shows like “Queen of the South,” “New Girl,” and “Chance” for Fox 21 Television Studios, “Glow” from Netflix, “Designated Survivor” from ABC, and “Portlandia” from IFC.

Global cybercrime syndicates increasingly demand ransom from hacking targets who fall victim to their digital traps and intrusions.

In a report released Thursday, the giant software security company Symantec estimated that worldwide ransomware attacks surged from 340,665 in 2015 to 463,841 in 2016. In these attacks, hackers commonly encrypt a hard drive and offer a decryption key only on payment of ransom. In addition to individuals, hospitals, schools and universities have been hit.

Twitter users offered suggestions to “thedarkoverlord” of other places it might hack.

@tdohack3r I suggest Trump's tax returns.
JO (@JulieOMarshall) April 29, 2017

I suggest Trump’s tax returns,” tweeted an account from someone identified as Julie O. Marshall, an events manager.

Another suggested the hackers better fear for their freedom

@tdohack3r Spoiler alert: you will be in jail soon!
laurent jedeloo (@LJedeloo) April 30, 2017

Spoiler alert: you will be in jail soon!” tweeted Laurent Jedeloo (@ljedeloo).

Your going to get in a lot of trouble for this…” echoed @grey_alien33

@tdohack3r hack something worthwhile like our credit rating. Wipe us all clean. Or petty crimes. Or job history
Mr Karen Walker (@i_drunktweet) April 30, 2017

Still others made requests for unreleased television shows they can’t wait to see, or hacks to fix their own blemished pasts.

Hack something worthwhile like our credit rating. Wipe us all clean. Or petty crimes. Or job history,” tweeted an account identified as Mr. Karen Walker (@i_drunktweet)

Tim Johnson: 202-383-6028, @timjohnson



Eric Schmidt’s Rogue CIA Outfit Wants To Rape Your Mind


Posted by  Olivia Russell


SOFT ROBOTS THAT can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

Yet among the 38 previously undisclosed companies receiving In-Q-Tel funding, the research focus that stands out is social media mining and surveillance; the portfolio document lists several tech companies pursuing work in this area, including Dataminr, Geofeedia, PATHAR, and TransVoyant.

In-Q-Tel’s investment process.

Screen grab from In-Q-Tel’s website.

Those four firms, which provide unique tools to mine data from platforms such as Twitter, presented at a February “CEO Summit” in San Jose sponsored by the fund, along with other In-Q-Tel portfolio companies.

The investments appear to reflect the CIA’s increasing focus on monitoring social media. Last September, David Cohen, the CIA’s second-highest ranking official, spoke at length at Cornell University about a litany of challenges stemming from the new media landscape. The Islamic State’s “sophisticated use of Twitter and other social media platforms is a perfect example of the malign use of these technologies,” he said.

Social media also offers a wealth of potential intelligence; Cohen noted that Twitter messages from the Islamic State, sometimes called ISIL, have provided useful information. “ISIL’s tweets and other social media messages publicizing their activities often produce information that, especially in the aggregate, provides real intelligence value,” he said.

The latest round of In-Q-Tel investments comes as the CIA has revamped its outreach to Silicon Valley, establishing a new wing, the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which is tasked with developing and deploying cutting-edge solutions by directly engaging the private sector. The directorate is working closely with In-Q-Tel to integrate the latest technology into agency-wide intelligence capabilities.

Dataminr directly licenses a stream of data from Twitter to spot trends and detect emerging threats.

Screen grab from Dataminr’s website.

Dataminr directly licenses a stream of data from Twitter to visualize and quickly spot trends on behalf of law enforcement agencies and hedge funds, among other clients.

Geofeedia collects geotagged social media messages to monitor breaking news events in real time.

Screen grab from Geofeedia’s website.

Geofeedia specializes in collecting geotagged social media messages, from platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, to monitor breaking news events in real time. The company, which counts dozens of local law enforcement agencies as clients, markets its ability to track activist protests on behalf of both corporate interests and police departments.

PATHAR mines social media to determine networks of association.

Screen grab from PATHAR’s website.

PATHAR’s product, Dunami, is used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to “mine Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media to determine networks of association, centers of influence and potential signs of radicalization,” according to an investigation by Reveal.

TransVoyant analyzes data points to deliver insights and predictions about global events.

Screen grab from TransVoyant’s website.

TransVoyant, founded by former Lockheed Martin Vice President Dennis Groseclose, provides a similar service by analyzing multiple data points for so-called decision-makers. The firm touts its ability to monitor Twitter to spot “gang incidents” and threats to journalists. A team from TransVoyant has worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan to integrate data from satellites, radar, reconnaissance aircraft, and drones.

Dataminr, Geofeedia, and PATHAR did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Heather Crotty, the director of marketing at TransVoyant, acknowledged an investment from In-Q-Tel, but could not discuss the scope of the relationship. In-Q-Tel “does not disclose the financial terms of its investments,” Crotty said.

Carrie A. Sessine, the vice president for external affairs at In-Q-Tel, also declined an interview because the fund “does not participate in media interviews or opportunities.”

Over the last decade, In-Q-Tel has made a number of public investments in companies that specialize in scanning large sets of online data. In 2009, the fund partnered with Visible Technologies, which specializes in reputation management over the internet by identifying the influence of “positive” and “negative” authors on a range of platforms for a given subject. And six years ago, In-Q-Tel formed partnerships with NetBase, another social media analysis firm that touts its ability to scan “billions of sources in public and private online information,” and Recorded Future, a firm that monitors the web to predict events in the future.

Unpublicized In-Q-Tel Portfolio Companies





3D vision software solutions



Decentralized mobile network



Hybrid cloud management platform



On-demand, automated infrastructure security



Cloud-hosted big data analytics and processing platform



Situational awareness and analysis at the speed of social media



Open platform to build, ship, and run distributed applications



Next-generation electronically scanning radar systems


Epiq Solutions

Software-defined radio platforms and applications



Location-based social media monitoring platform



Alternate network for off-grid smartphone communications



Network-focused approach to improving mobile application performance



Inside threat detection using analytics, machine learning, and big data



Fast, simple, and secure contactless data transfer



Antenna technology for broadband satellite communications



Cloud-based mobile cybersecurity



Design and publish visual, data-rich maps



Next-generation scale, efficiency, and automation in a physical or cloud-based data center



Next-generation machine learning platform


Orbital Insight

Satellite imagery processing and data science at scale


Orion Labs

Wearable device and real-time voice communications platform


Parallel Wireless

LTE radio access nodes and software stack for small cell deployment



Channel-specific social media analytics platform



Mobile material handling solutions to automate tasks



Redefined ultra-low power wireless sensor solutions



Build and scale real-time apps


Rocket Lab

Launch provider for small satellites


Skincential Sciences

Novel materials for biological sample collection


Soft Robotics

Soft robotics actuators and systems



Software supply chain automation and security


Spaceflight Industries

Small satellite launch, network, and imagery provider



Leading enterprise-class threat intelligence platform

Accessible code-driven analysis platform


Transient Electronics

Dissolvable semiconductor technology



Live predictive intelligence platform


TRX Systems

3D indoor location and mapping solutions



SaaS platform for advanced battery analysis



Big data exploration, visualization, and analytics platform


Bruce Lund, a senior member of In-Q-Tel’s technical staff, noted in a 2012 paper that “monitoring social media” is increasingly essential for government agencies seeking to keep track of “erupting political movements, crises, epidemics, and disasters, not to mention general global trends.”

The recent wave of investments in social media-related companies suggests the CIA has accelerated the drive to make collection of user-generated online data a priority. Alongside its investments in start-ups, In-Q-Tel has also developed a special technology laboratory in Silicon Valley, called Lab41, to provide tools for the intelligence community to connect the dots in large sets of data.

In February, Lab41 published an article exploring the ways in which a Twitter user’s location could be predicted with a degree of certainty through the location of the user’s friends. On Github, an open source website for developers, Lab41 currently has a project to ascertain the “feasibility of using architectures such as Convolutional and Recurrent Neural Networks to classify the positive, negative, or neutral sentiment of Twitter messages towards a specific topic.”

Collecting intelligence on foreign adversaries has potential benefits for counterterrorism, but such CIA-supported surveillance technology is also used for domestic law enforcement and by the private sector to spy on activist groups.

Palantir, one of In-Q-Tel’s earliest investments in the social media analytics realm, was exposed in 2011 by the hacker group LulzSec to be in negotiation for a proposal to track labor union activists and other critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobbying group in Washington. The company, now celebrated as a “tech unicorn” — a term for start-ups that reach over $1 billion in valuation — distanced itself from the plan after it was exposed in a cache of leaked emails from the now-defunct firm HBGary Federal.

Cover of the document obtained by The Intercept.

Yet other In-Q-Tel-backed companies are now openly embracing the practice. Geofeedia, for instance, promotes its research into Greenpeace activists, student demonstrations, minimum wage advocates, and other political movements. Police departments in Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, and other major municipalities have contracted with Geofeedia, as well as private firms such as the Mall of America and McDonald’s.

Lee Guthman, an executive at Geofeedia, told reporter John Knefel that his company could predict the potential for violence at Black Lives Matter protests just by using the location and sentiment of tweets. Guthman said the technology could gauge sentiment by attaching “positive and negative points” to certain phrases, while measuring “proximity of words to certain words.”

Privacy advocates, however, have expressed concern about these sorts of automated judgments.

When you have private companies deciding which algorithms get you a so-called threat score, or make you a person of interest, there’s obviously room for targeting people based on viewpoints or even unlawfully targeting people based on race or religion,” said Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

She added that there is a dangerous trend toward government relying on tech companies to “build massive dossiers on people” using “nothing but constitutionally protected speech.”

Author : Lee Fang

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