The Download: KoolSpan finds a marketing opportunity in NSA surveillance controversy

The revelation of an National Security Agency program that may be collecting information about individuals’ communications from telephone and Internet companies has created a marketing opportunity for Bethesda-based KoolSpan.

The firm’s main technology called TrustChip fits into smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop phones, and encrypts phone calls and digital messages so they cannot be monitored or intercepted, chief executive Gregg Smith said.

The company has sold the chip primarily to businesses and government entities to date, but the NSA controversy has generated interest from average consumers, Smith said.

“We haven’t spent a lot of marketing dollars in pursuit of the consumer to date,” Smith said. “But this news really proved to me that there really is an opportunity for us to pursue the consumer market.”

But couldn’t the technology fall in the wrong hands?

Smith said KoolSpan must screen the prospective buyers of its chips against government databases before making a sale and is prohibited from doing business with certain countries.

Digital revolution

Founding Fathers, meet modern technology.

Historical documents once held by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are now available on a searchable Web site called Founders Online.

The project, which debuted last week, is the result of a multi-year partnership between the National Archives and the University of Virginia Press.

In all, creators expect the Web site will host roughly 175,000 documents. That includes 242 volumes of published print documents that have already been transcribed and annotated, as well as about 55,000 documents that are currently unpublished.

MarkLogic, a software company with offices in McLean, provided the project’s technological backbone, which includes document storage, full-text search, databases and Web services, said Kevin Shelly, public sector vice president.

Shelly said the company doesn’t shy away from “unstructured” or “semi-structured” data that may not be ideally formatted for searchable computer databases — such as, say, documents written more than 200 years ago.

The software “turns data into real, usable information,” Shelly said. “Harnessing all of that information is improving outcomes in all areas of business, health care, education, private sector and government.”

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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