Oakland Chief Wendt and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan pose for photo op with the office staff of at the partnership announcement on April 24th.



Neighborhoods are small communities. Communities have bonds. They also have rivalries. They also have gossip and intrigue, albeit on a petty scale. Through the efforts of Mayor Jean Quan and, the intelligence community and the Oakland Police Department (OPD) are now privy to these tiny pieces of personal information and the larger patters they reveal. Under the auspices of community building and public safety, the public's participation is can now be freely enlisted in the creation of a database of that information.

Through the new partnership, the OPD and the CIA now know what Oakland residents had for breakfast, who their children have a playdate with, and if their dog wanders around the block. is Oakland's social media surveillance experiment.

Time will tell what the results of that experiment will be. A metropolitan police department can easily fail at social media as the New York Police Department recently showed with their social media debacle with the #myNYPD twitter campaign.

At its core, San Francisco-based is a social networking site for neighborhoods. The model pairs a social media neighborhood community center, with law enforcement and existing neighborhood watch programs. Tailored to individual neighborhoods, it allows people to virtually post lost pet notices, rate babysitters, share news and become more in touch with their immediate real world lives. Nextdoor as a company has a focus on crime, safety and virtual block watches within the neighborhood setting – a crossover between a Myspace of neighborhood associations and a Facebook for George Zimmerman groupies.

The partnership comes on the heels of the defeat of the Quan administration’s proposal to create the Domain Awareness Center intended to provide OPD with a city-wide system of real time intelligence and comprehensive city wide surveillance. That project, which draws on a grant for domestic port security, was scaled back by Oakland City Council after public outcry and was limited to the port of Oakland.

Nadia Kayyali, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, expressed concerns about Nextdoor having potential links to the scaled back Domain Awareness Center and the program’s implications for racial profiling.

At a press event featuring Mayor Jean Quan on April 24 this year, Nextdoor announced their new partnership with OPD.

The OPD's part of the Nextdoor partnership is not just public relations or community policing. As participants in the program, they take an active role in promoting the site and building the social network. On a fully integrated level, Nextdoor has created a platform that combined social media outreach with intelligence gathering.

Oakland is not the first major city to form a partnership with Austin, Houston and Dallas, Texas all preceded it. The company is well-funded, with a string of Menlo Park venture capital firms lined up behind hopes of its success.

According to's press statements, they are backed by Google Ventures, Bezos Expedition, Allen and Company, Greylock Capital Partners, and Benchmark Capital Partners. All of these firms have ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. None of these ties are secret. Nearly all are published openly by the companies themselves. As a group, these investment companies put their venture capital into tech companies and technologies that the intelligence community wishes to succeed. They profit by doing so.

Privatization had been the norm of the US intelligence community in the post-911 era and the lines between government agencies and the corporations they partner with have become deliberately blurred. We have seen these relationships surface in scandal after scandal -- Haliburton in Guantanamo, Titan L3 in Abu Ghraib, Blackwater (or whatever they need to rebrand themselves this week) in New Orleans after Katrina or in neighborhood shootouts in Iraq.

On the surface, the OPD is using a social networking tool to build community. Although it seems to be a hybrid of a chatroom and the food co-op bulletin board, it is also a powerful tool for gaining human intelligence on an organic level.

Through careful monitoring of neighborhood-wide communications, a vast store of personal information on individual habits can be had. is free, but proof of residence in the Neighborhood must be provided, including with a credit card, which a credit check will tie to the account holder's address. Thus, an online handle is linked instantly with an address, a name, credit information, other social networking profiles and a list of roommates and family members. Recipe sharing tells what you like to eat, pet names are now data (is your pet's name your secret password question?), and babysitting habits reveal your leisure schedule.

Google Ventures, a private venture capital firm owned by Google executives, started out in the intelligence business by buying into Recorded Future in 2009. Another early investor in Recorded Future was the CIA's own-profit venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, which was founded by George Tenet himself while he was still Director of Central Intelligence in 1999. The two firms invested in Recorded Future's technology because it allows a user to digest a large amount of text and distill the information based on references to moments in time.

Thus, millions of tweets or emails can be sifted for mentions of “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Tuesday at 1:00” and “See you on Main Street Tuesday.” With this tool a user can paint a detailed picture of what individuals or groups of people plan to do and when they plan to do it. It has been speculated that Recorded Future is a key software component of the PRISM surveillance program. In the private sector, Recorded Futures was openly used to spy on members of the hacktivist group Anonymous in order to disrupt their worldwide attempts to give free blankets to the homeless.

For decades corporations have been building their real world social networks by creating interlocking boards of directors. The act of interlocking companies through overlapping boards serves much the same purpose that royal weddings once did – it is the consummation of an alliance that facilitates partnered investment and a real world working relationship.

With this type of standard business world marriage in mind, Howard Cox came to the board of In-Q-Tel's while continuing to serve on the board of Greylock where he has been a partner since 1971.
Cox is also an influential link between the government and corporate world as he also sits on the Secretary of Defense Business Board in a revolving door arrangement based on his previous work in the Defense Department. He is the personal embodiment of the long-standing links between private equity capital, the military, and the intelligence community.

Greylock Capital Partners shares more than leadership with In-Q-Tel subsidiaries. The creation of Decru Incorporated was backed by both in 2002. They made network appliances that provided wire speed encryption authentication and secure network data storage. Marketed to banks for their internal systems, Decru was acquired in 2005 by Network Appliances, turning a tidy profit for Greylock and In-Q-Tel. Greylock also joined In-Q-Tel in the start-up funding of Cloudera, a cloud computing provider.

Benchmark Capital Partners joined Greylock and In-Q-Tel in funding the start-up of Decru just have they have joined them again in financing the start-up of Benchmark also joined Greylock as an early investor in Emodo, an e-learning and secure online classroom provider. Benchmark's Europian subsidiary Balderton Capital also invested early in Recorded Future.

In 2008, former CIA director George Tenet found a home as managing director of the private merchant bank and boutique investment firm Allen and Company. As managing director of one of's earliest investors, Tenet appears to deep influence in the company’s core business model and its potential success.

Bezos Expedition, the private investment firm founded and owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is no stranger to the intelligence community professionally, or to George Tenet personally. In addition to Amazon's cloud computing deal with the CIA, worth in excess of $600 million, Bezos Expedition has had multiple points of contact with Tenet and Allen & Company in the last year.

Allen & Company, with Tenet at the helm, was the deal maker that brokered Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post soon after it began publishing Edward Snowden's leaks. These repeated contacts also cast a different light on Amazon's new infatuation with the use of drones for product delivery.

A less high profile point of contact was Bezos Expedition's investment in Twitter prior to that social media giant's IPO. Allen & Company was a key underwriter of Twitter's IPO and turned a tidy profit on the transaction. Thus the intelligence community funded, founded and/or influenced both Twitter and a key tool for bulk analysis of Twitter in much the same way that it appears to do with

In the fast paced world of tech, start-ups come and start-ups go. The future of Nextdoor remains uncertain but like USAID's recent debacle with the “Cuba Twitter” program,'s partnerships in American cities demonstrates the increasing trend of police and intelligence agencies employing new social media platforms to oversee and influence. Nextdoor is the next step in this thread.

Snitching? There's an App for that. Nextdoor CEO shows mayor Jean Quan their Iphone app for e-snitching.