Big Brother is Watching You

Tool to Track Photo-Taking

In America, spies are currently working on the development of a tool that will enable computers to identify where a photo was taken.  The project is being run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IAPRA).  According to an article in The Daily Mail, the reason for this tool is mainly for the military to have the capacity to “track down terrorists who are in hiding in remote regions.”

The way it will work is by scanning photos of the targets into a computer that will be able to speedily return “an exact match for the terrorist hideout.”  Thereafter troops will be sent to that area to capture the target.

Changing Terrorist Targeting

If this works and goes ahead, it could actually “revolutionize” terrorist targeting by various intelligence agencies.  The photos and tapes will be gleaned from Al Qaeda, Taliban and other such terrorist organizations.  The filming often originates in “remote caves or barren hillsides in the depths of the Middle East.”

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Bin Laden Capture

One example given of how effective and helpful the tool will be, is the Bin Laden case.  According to the scientists behind this development, had this tool been available years ago, his capture may have happened much earlier.  Without the tool, the situation is as follows:  intelligence analysts are forced to find the place where a photo was taken through a grueling analysis of its every detail.

Potential Problems

Currently, it is not known how this tool will actually work.  What might be problematic is the fact that currently the computer may have too many images in its database which will lengthen the process of finding the match.  However, if this tool advances further, then it will be able to “deduce the air pressure from the photograph and link it to a region with similar conditions at the time the photograph was taken.”  But we shouldn’t jump the gun as even the IARPA is realistic in its knowledge that something like this is unlikely to be available until 2016.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]

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