It's just like an episode of Person of Interest. According to documents leaked on Wikileaks, a company run by ex-CIA agents has created a piece of technology, called TrapWire, that siphons data from surveillance cameras in stores, casinos, and other businesses around the country. TrapWire then analyzes this data for, well, people of interest. Are we living in a total surveillance state without even realizing it?
Over at Business Insider, David Seaman reports on the contents of the documents at Wikileaks:
Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It's part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America's intelligence community.
The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who's who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented. The details on Abraxas and, to an even greater extent TrapWire, are scarce, however, and not without reason. For a program touted as a tool to thwart terrorism and monitor activity meant to be under wraps, its understandable that Abraxas would want the program's public presence to be relatively limited. But thanks to last year's hack of the Strategic Forecasting intelligence agency, or Stratfor, all of that is quickly changing."
Currently it's pretty hard to reach Wikileaks to read the papers yourself, because the site has been crushed under an onslaught of DDOS attacks — which, how convenient is that, conspiracy theorists? But you can still see a description of Abraxas' Tripwire technology here, at the USPTO.
There is more information about TrapWire, and the Wikileaks documents, at Public Intelligence.
UPDATE: The Guardian's Charles Arthur has reviewed the Wikileaks documents, and writes:
Documents from the US department of homeland security show that it paid $832,000 to deploy Trapwire in Washington DC and Seattle.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that TrapWire had been created by the U.S. government. It was not. It was created by a private company, Abraxas, staffed by ex-CIA agents. They sold it to various government agencies, local governments, and private companies.