Technology

Surveillance Firm Banjo Used a Secret Firm and Faux Apps To Scrape Social Media

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An nameless reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Banjo, a man-made intelligence agency that works with police used a shadow firm to create an array of Android and iOS apps that regarded innocuous however have been particularly designed to secretly scrape social media, Motherboard has discovered. The information signifies an abuse of information by a authorities contractor, with Banjo going far past what corporations which scrape social networks often do. Banjo created a secret firm named Pink Unicorn Labs, based on three former Banjo workers, with two of them including that the corporate developed the apps. This was carried out to keep away from detection by social networks, two of the previous workers mentioned.

Three of the apps created by Pink Unicorn Labs have been known as “One Path Fan App,” “EDM Fan App,” and “Components Racing App.” Motherboard discovered these three apps on archive websites and downloaded and analyzed them, as did an impartial skilled. The apps — which seem to have been initially compiled in 2015 and have been on the Play Retailer till 2016 based on Google — outwardly had no connection to Banjo, however an evaluation of its code signifies connections to the corporate. This side of Banjo’s operation has some similarities with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with a number of sources evaluating the 2 incidents. […] The corporate has not publicly defined the way it particularly scrapes social media apps. Motherboard discovered the apps developed by Pink Unicorn Labs included code mentioning signing into Fb, Twitter, Instagram, Russian social media app VK, FourSquare, Google Plus, and Chinese language social community Sina Weibo. The apps might have scraped social media “by sending the saved login token to a server for Banjo to make use of later, or by utilizing the app itself to scrape data,” studies Motherboard, noting that it isn’t completely clear which technique Banjo used. “Motherboard discovered that the apps when opened made internet requests to the area ‘pulapi.com,’ seemingly referring to Pink Unicorn Labs, however the web site that would offer a response to the app is presently down.”

Final weekend, Motherboard reported that Banjo signed a $20.7 million contract with Utah in 2019 that granted the corporate entry to the state’s visitors, CCTV, and public security cameras. “Banjo guarantees to mix that enter with a spread of different knowledge similar to satellites and social media posts to create a system that it claims alerts legislation enforcement of crimes or occasions in real-time.”

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