From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Available inEnglish
Created byTransparency Toolkit
LaunchedMay 6, 2015; 6 years ago (2015-05-06)
Current statusOnline
Written in

ICWATCH is a public database of mainly LinkedIn profiles of people in the United States Intelligence Community. The database was created by Transparency Toolkit and is hosted by WikiLeaks.[2]


The publication of global surveillance disclosures in 2013 revealed code names for surveillance projects including MARINA and MAINWAY.[3][4] It was then discovered that the LinkedIn profiles of individuals in the intelligence community mentioned these code names as well as additional ones.[5][6] Transparency Toolkit took advantage of this and automated the collection of LinkedIn profiles mentioning such code names, collating them into a searchable database.[2][7][8]


The name "ICWATCH" is a play on ICREACH, an alleged top-secret, surveillance-related search engine created by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) after the September 11 attacks.[2][9]


The initial commit to the Git repository of LookingGlass was made on August 23, 2014.[10] LookingGlass is a search tool that was built for use in ICWATCH.[7]

ICWATCH launched on May 6, 2015;[11] on the same day, Transparency Toolkit, the group that created ICWATCH, presented it at the re:publica conference.[2] At launch, the database contained information from over 27,000 LinkedIn profiles.[2][12]

By mid-May 2015, Transparency Toolkit began receiving requests from individuals to be removed from ICWATCH, including death threats.[13] Following the threats as well as distributed denial-of-service attacks made against the site, WikiLeaks began hosting the website and database by the end of May 2015.[13][14]

In August 2016 TechCrunch reported that LinkedIn was suing 100 unnamed individuals who had scraped LinkedIn's website, and named ICWATCH as a possible target.[15]

As of February 2017, the database tracks over 100,000 profiles from LinkedIn, Indeed, and other public sources.[16]


The database can be searched using the company, location, industry, and other parameters of the intelligence workers.[2]


Most of the discovered profiles are not of those in the National Security Agency but of those working for contractors.[2]

The project also revealed possible trends in employment in the intelligence community. For instance, the "number of people claiming to work with SIGINT databases […] has increased dramatically over the years since 2008, with just a small decline starting in 2013."[2]

M. C. McGrath of Transparency Toolkit believes that the workers are "for the most part, pretty normal people".[2]


Ian Paul of PC World voiced concern for the safety of the individuals listed in the database.[12]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Transparency Toolkit". GitHub. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Joseph Cox (May 7, 2015). "This Database Gathers the Resumes of 27,000 Intelligence Workers". Vice.com. Motherboard. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Barton Gellman (June 15, 2013). "U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Mike Masnick (June 17, 2013). "Why The NSA and President Bush Got the FISA Court to Reinterpret the Law in Order to Collect Tons of Data". Techdirt. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  5. ^ Christopher Soghoian (June 15, 2013). "Tweet by @csoghoian". Twitter. Retrieved February 26, 2017. Linkedin profiles of people in Maryland that mention MARINA & NUCLEON have some fun other codenames like TRAFFICTHIEF
  6. ^ Mike Masnick (June 18, 2013). "Discovering Names of Secret NSA Surveillance Programs Via LinkedIn". Techdirt. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Rob O'Neill (May 6, 2015). "LinkedIn serves up resumes of 27,000 US intelligence personnel". ZDNet. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  8. ^ Kalev Leetaru (August 13, 2016). "Is Government Secrecy Dead in the Internet and Social Media Era?". Forbes. Archived from the original on February 22, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017. Last year the Transparency Toolkit released ICWATCH, a searchable database of more than 27,000 intelligence community employees, culled entirely from keyword searches of information IC employees uploaded themselves to LinkedIn. Indeed, ICWATCH demonstrated that myriad highly classified programs were openly listed on LinkedIn profiles, often with enough contextual information to at least guess at their application area.
  9. ^ Gallagher, Ryan (Aug 25, 2014). "The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google". The Intercept.
  10. ^ M.C. McGrath (Shidash) (August 23, 2014). "First version". GitHub.
  11. ^ M.C. McGrath (May 6, 2015). "ICWATCH". Transparency Toolkit. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Ian Paul (May 7, 2015). "New database taps LinkedIn to watch the NSA watchers". PCWorld. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Rob O'Neill (May 19, 2015). "Death threat, FBI complaint greet launch of intelligence community database". ZDNet. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  14. ^ "The Kill List: ICWatch Uses LinkedIn Account Info to Out Officials Who Aided Assassination Program". Democracy Now!. May 28, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  15. ^ Kate Conger (August 15, 2016). "LinkedIn sues anonymous data scrapers". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "ICWATCH". Transparency Toolkit. Retrieved February 22, 2017.