US intelligence agencies are reportedly using big data analytics to help defend against foreign cyberattacks, according to documents released on Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee.
The House Intelligence committee, which is conducting its own probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, said it was concerned that Amazon’s cloud-based “Big Data Platform” has allowed Russian intelligence agencies to “map” social media users and identify “key political influencers” and their interests.
The document, which the committee said was not classified, was part of a congressional request that Amazon, the parent company of the US social media giant, provide the House and Senate intelligence committees with documents on its Big Data Platforms, as well as the number of times Amazon has used “big data analytics” to help US counter threats to national security.
Big Data analytics are the practice of analyzing large amounts of data on a large scale to create insights that are tailored to individual users and their goals.
While Amazon has traditionally employed this technique to identify and identify users who have been engaging in a specific behavior, the company said it is now looking to use “big” data analytics in other areas of its business to better serve its customers and protect US interests.
“Big data analytics are a new and powerful tool for government and intelligence agencies in order to better understand their targets, to better anticipate their actions, and to protect our interests,” the company wrote in a blog post.
The letter, signed by Sens.
John McCain, R-Arizona, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, was sent to the company in February, after Amazon made public a series of documents detailing the use of Big Data analytics by US agencies.
It also highlighted a separate 2016 report from the House intelligence committee, also signed by Manchin and McCain, which said that the use and exploitation of “big-data analytics” by Russia to “target US interests” is an ongoing concern.
In response to the letter, Amazon wrote: “The use of big data is not new and we have deployed and deployed our tools to better protect the security of US interests around the world.”
“We have also deployed these tools to help protect our customers, including to protect the privacy and security of our customers and customers’ data.
And we continue to work closely with our customers to deploy these tools for use in the areas of cyberwarfare and counterintelligence,” the statement said.
Amazon also noted that it has made “significant progress” in “protecting customers’ privacy” and “privacy and security” over the past five years, and said it has been able to protect customers’ information “from being shared in ways that are not appropriate.”
Amazon declined to comment on the contents of the Senate report, but the company is expected to make a statement later in the week.
The committee has also asked Amazon for a copy of the “big list” of “threat indicators” it says were created by Russian intelligence to track political, social and economic activity in the US.
The Senate intelligence committee released a redacted version of the Big List on Tuesday, which included a “threat indicator” from Russia that was used to help identify and target political and economic activities.
“We’ve always said that we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that the American people and businesses get to know what’s happening in our country, and this Big List is just one example of how we’re working to do that,” McCain said in a statement.
“And we’ll keep doing it until Russia is in serious trouble,” he said.
“Russia is a very dangerous adversary, but we have a responsibility to make our country safe.
I know the Russians have already started to work on that.”
A spokesman for the Senate intelligence panel, which oversees the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, referred questions to Amazon.