Activity-Based Intelligence? (What it Means for Social Media Users)

Activity-based Intelligence (ABI) is a development in intelligence gathering modalities that aims to elucidate potential threats in a given environment through analysis and integration of meta-data into intelligence directed activities. In other words, every piece of information you contribute to the web may be used to generate a permanent virtual profile of your life.

In accordance with the ABI model, vast swathes of information derived from virtually any electronic activity or transaction are collected and logged for future use.1 And these activities include what one posts on social media (their profile information, relationships with other people, etc.) as well as one’s bank-transaction activity, cell-phone data (internet and GPS), medical data, and various public records.

ABI is valued for its potential to identify trends, relationships, and events that occur within a specified social network and it is believed that it’s “methodology will aid in the development and understanding of patterns of life, which in turn will enable analysts to differentiate abnormal from normal activities as well as potentially defining a ‘new normal.’ ”2

The website for BAE Systems, a company granted $60 million to develop ABI, asserts that it, “is the primary tool for predictive analysis that will transform how we conduct operations and manage threat environments.”3

In simpler terms ABI is a novel surveillance method that allows for the aggregation of loose personal information from a number of sources to be subsequently fed into a system that clarifies relationships and probable behaviors/ activities of the target. In contrast to shinobi methods of gathering intelligence, it is the ultimate surveillance apparatus.

One component that informs the whole ABI system is that of social networking platforms like Facebook and others:

“The dynamic nature and continuously updated features of the Social Web make it a fertile environment for intelligence gathering in a variety of disciplines, enabling users to tap into the ‘wisdom of the crowds’. Further, the Social Web is useful for gleaning the collective ‘impression of the masses’ regarding current matters…”4

ABI has been at the center of a debate among talk-radio political pundits and conspiracy forums due to its perceived potential ramifications of global surveillance and the belief that the employment of ABI will not be constrained to the domain of military activities.

For example, one prominent talk-show platform asserted in a 2015 article that the development of ABI represents, “a nexus between private tech firms, Homeland Security and law enforcement domestic surveillance and domestic use of special forces.”19

This assertion, that a domestic grid of surveillance is being constructed for managed control of U.S. citizens might not prove insubstantial when one considers the theory and mechanisms that make ABI a functional tool.

These include:

  1. The identification of unknown, unknown

threats. These threats consist of a quality of complete surprise to the intelligence community by nature of their tagline.

  1. To identify these unknown threats, a high

quantity of data must be collected from virtually every conceivable domain of human activity – an obvious requisite in that threats are typically originated by humans. This mechanism in the scheme of ABI is known as Human Domain Analytics (HDA).

For an in-depth examination of what ABI entails in relation to domestic and foreign military activities, watch the vid. below (and subscribe to Caravan to Midnight).

Grasping the significance of ABI technology, the defense oriented mind might ask whether U.S. civilians are currently being targeted by ABI?

While learning of ABI, this author experienced an internal soliloquy that evinced this question. After some thought, I acceded to the idea that it may be so. The reason that made the affirmative answer to this question tenable consisted of the following:

Premise 1) ABI is only efficient in identifying threats if large quantities of data related to every individual person in a geo-graphical region are collected.

Premise 2) For maximum efficiency in ABI application, the data-net must extend beyond regional borders and perhaps encompass all virtual connections of the entire planet including the United States.

Premise 3) Intelligence agencies of the United States who originated and use ABI desire efficiency in the methodology.

Premise 4) Intelligence agencies of the United States are historically and contemporarily tied to instances of blatant breaches of the 4th Amendment.

Premise 5) U.S. intelligence agencies may be considered likely abusers of 4th Amendment protections in the future – a probability established by precedent.

Conclusion) Therefore, it is conceivable that ABI is currently, or may eventually be, used on U.S. civilians despite violations to the 4th Amendment such practices represent.


  1. Miller, G. (2013). Activity-Based Intelligence Uses Metadata to Map Adversary Networks. Electronic Article. D.O.A. 9/28/15
  2. Atwood, C.P. (2015). Activity-Based Intelligence: Revolutionizing Military Intelligence Analysis. Electronic Article. D.O.A. 9/28/15
  3. BAE Systems. (2012). BAE Systems Selected to Provide Technical Services to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Electronic Article. D.o.A. 9/28/15
  4. (2015) June 16th. Investigative Report: Jade Helm Mystery Solved. Electronic Article. D.o.A. 10/1/15.
  5. Ibid.
  7. Kamel-Boulos, M.N. et al. (2010). Social Web mining and exploitation for serious applications: Technosocial Predictive Analytics and related technologies for public health, environmental and national security surveillance. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine 100. p.16–23

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