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GCHQ’s Squeaking Dolphins

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The GCHQ’s meme generator team needs an editor.

In addition to leaks about the use of “leaky” mobile apps — including the highly-popular Angry Birds — yesterday’s revelations included a document dump explaining a program called “Squeaky Dolphin.” A slideshow entitled “Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV” from Britain’s Government Security Headquarters (GCHQ) and obtained by NBC News via Edward Snowden the equivalent of the NSA for the folks across the pond, outlines an effort to monitor online activity in real-time.

Squeaky Dolphin is not a targeted program — it’s meant to identify broader trends in social media activity through “likes,” popular tags and blog visits. This includes, as several slides demonstrate, analyzing real-time trends and activity on YouTube, a practice Google spokespeople have express “shock” over, according to NBC. The only way to do this, NBC continues, would be to either “tap the cables directly and store the data or use a third party, like a private company, to extract and collect the raw data.”

On a visceral level, the strangest part of the slideshow is the first section, which weaves together an image of a cat and a dog (see beginning of post), an analysis of certain web browsers in the context of psychological constructs (presumably their users), and a picture of U.S. Airways pilot C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully conducted an emergency landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009. At least this time there were no emoticons involved.

You can view the whole presentation here.



Hannah Gais

Hannah is assistant editor at the Foreign Policy Association, a nonresident fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and the managing editor of Her work has appeared in a number of national and international publications, including Al Jazeera America, U.S. News and World Report, First Things, The Moscow Times, The Diplomat, Truthout, Business Insider and Foreign Policy in Focus.

Gais is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. and the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, where she focused on Eastern Christian Theology and European Studies. You can follow her on Twitter @hannahgais