The "Guaranteed takedowns in 5 hours or less" that web-watching outfit Cyveillance promises aren't so guaranteed when they're illegal: a lesson in the Streisand Effect having just been dealt to its client, Comcast, by a particularly ill-advised attempt to bully TorrentFreak into removing public court documents.
But it's not their first rodeo, and Cyveillance has always been as trivially sleazy about it as they are now. Here's a blog entry from 2003 complaining about its efforts to hide what it does.
Cyveillance uses a couple of dirty tricks when they crawl the web. First, they ignore the robot exclusion protocol. ... Another problem with the way Cyveillance crawls is that they provide fradulent header information in the HTTP request. ... You could try to keep Cyveillance out of your web site by blocking their network. The problem is that if enough people do this, they may try to hide their origin to get around the blocks. That would be a pretty sleazy thing to do, but no more sleazy than what they do already.
Here's another post about this outfit, which points out that the parent company, QinetiQ, is a now-privatized former branch of British Intelligence agency DERA, which "since its formation has made numerous acquisitions, primarily of United States-based companies."
Which should make the fact that it also works for Uncle Sam's own spooks unsurprising. [PDF link]
Cyveillance, a subsidiary of QinetiQ of North America, is under contract by the Secret Service to search available information related to the Secret Service and its missions. The information captured by Cyveillance is reviewed by Cyveillance personnel to identify the results that appear to fall within the parameters of the Secret Service’s stated requirements. Potentially relevant information related to the Agency’s missions is forwarded to Secret Service personnel who determine whether further investigation is required to assess the content (e.g., to determine if it is a viable or potentially viable threat). If further investigation is deemed necessary, the information obtained through Cyveillance is incorporated into the Protective Research Information Management System (PRISM-ID)1 , an existing Secret Service system. Content that relates to the Secret Service brand (i.e., mention of the Secret Service name) is forwarded to Secret Service personnel for informational purposes only; following its review, this information is deleted and is not retained by the Agency.
But let's look at the real problem here. Really, Cyveillance? That's the name they picked. Just imagine the focus group where they cooked that up.
Hello, everyone. Thanks for coming today, and thanks for watching that presentation. There's coffee over there by the vending machine, and--George, we put decaf in the other carafe?--yes, right there in the green carafe. There'll be some snacks out soon, too. If you look at the form, you'll see a number of candidate names and branding insignia for the company whose product you just saw described. What I want you to do is rate each candidate from one to ten for each of the associations next to it. That's right, yes, just draw it right in there. One to ten each for "Warmth," "Competence," and "Evil cyberpunk dystopia." Then we'll start the discussion. George, the donuts.