CIA’s Facebook Prepared to Launch Later This Month

If you haven’t heard, later this month the intelligence community will have access to a new tool which enables unprecedented access to classified information shared among individuals in the intelligence community via a Facebook-like interface. The name of the system is “A-Space”. In contrast to Intellipedia which provides a wiki-like environment for domestic intelligence organizations to share information, A-Space functions like a social network.

Back in 2007 the Department of National Intelligence “invited social networking experts the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and vendors to recommend and help develop specs” according to an article in InformationWeek. The system which has been built over the past year is prepared to be launched on September 22 according to Federal Computer Week.

If you listened to Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at f8 this year you would have heard him say that Facebook is about the sharing of information among friends. It’s no surprise then that the intelligence community would leverage what has now become one of the most efficient tools for sharing information digitally and use it internally. One of the interesting features, that many skeptics argue present a security risk, is that grants access to the general internet. In other words classified workstations are connected to the general internet.

While it has been interpreted by many as a security risk I can only imagine that this means the incorporation of a similar feature to sharing articles around the web. Imagine if two or three intelligence professionals share an article, such as today’s article in the Jerusalem post which suggests arms are being sent from Russia to Syria and Iran which are then being “channeled to terrorist fighters in Lebanon and Iraq.”

The intelligence community can then chime in with information that they have on the topic to to confirm or deny the assertion presented by Dick Cheney in the article. This is all speculation at this point but such a system makes a lot of sense. It also helps important information immediately filter to the top. The Wikipedia entry on A-Space highlights that the “Strength of Weak Ties” is critical to uncovering information which would have previously remained unknown.

It will be interesting to see if more information is ever revealed about this new system.