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Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008
US Army warns of Twitter danger

By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Computer keyboard
Authorities are worried about terrorist use of networking sites

US intelligence agencies are worried that terrorists might start to use new communication technologies like the blogging site Twitter to plan and organise attacks.

A draft of a US Army report posted on the internet identifies a number of mobile and web technologies that could be used in the future.

A chapter on Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter notes that first reports of the Los Angeles earthquake in July appeared on the service before established news outlets.

Activists also used Twitter to organise protests at the US Republican National Convention in September.

The report goes on to say that: "Twitter is already used by some members to post and support extremist ideologies and perspectives.

"Terrorists could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operational tool."

The report also claims that satellite navigation and mapping tools have been discussed in al-Qaeda forums.

One discussion post is said to have examined the use of Nokia's mobile phone navigation tool for "Specialist use in Marksmanship, Border Crossings and in Concealment of Supplies".

A member of another forum suggested internet or VOIP technology could be used alongside voice changing software to disguise a user's identity.

Database plans

Authorities in both the US and the UK are increasingly worried about the potential for terrorists to use the latest communication technologies including sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and gaming networks.
The raw idea of simply handing over all this information to any government, however benign, and sticking it in an electronic warehouse is an awful idea
Lord Carlile

The British government wants the police and security services, like MI5, to have greater powers to monitor mobile and internet-based systems.

Under new plans, the details of all phone calls made and websites visited in the UK could be kept for two years in a central database.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith says the government would only store details about the messages, like the location and identity of the caller, and not information about the content of the call itself.

But the idea of storing phone and internet records has been heavily criticised by some anti-terror experts.

The government's own reviewer of terrorism laws, Lord Carlile, said: "The raw idea of simply handing over all this information to any government, however benign, and sticking it in an electronic warehouse is an awful idea if there are not very strict controls about it."

A public consultation is expected to start in the New Year on the proposals.



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