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New US Government Project To Monitor Electronic Communication

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the unseen-mechanized-eye dept.

Government 164

An anonymous reader writes "PRODIGAL (Proactive Discovery of Insider Threats Using Graph Analysis and Learning) is a recently uncovered U.S. government program created in partnership with the Georgia Tech School of Computational Science and Engineering, ostensibly to monitor IMs, texts, and emails on government networks, is feared to be turned on the U.S. population at large. From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'"

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First post! (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266576)

First entry into PRODIGAL database!

What's the definition of "prodigal"? (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266742)

People always get that bit confused. What it REALLY means is
"A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

Nice name for this program.

Re:What's the definition of "prodigal"? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266976)

"A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

Nice name for this program.

Pretty much spot on. The nice lady from California doesn't mind her tax dollars going to pay some peeping tom to be bored of reading her email.

Re:What's the definition of "prodigal"? (3, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267352)

Well, this is the Twitter generation. The worst thing that can possibly happen to you nowadays is that no one cares to listen to anything you say...

It used to be that ${God} would listen to everything you thought and prayed for, and that used to be enough to let people think their problems and concerns were being addressed. I think it's healthy to have that feeling replaced by the warm, comforting feeling that the government is watching you and might choose to intervene.

Or at the very least, it would encourage people to actually start using encryption :-P

Re:What's the definition of "prodigal"? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267162)

People always get that bit confused. What it REALLY means is
"A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

ROTFL. Not being up on my bible, I thought that "prodigal" was related to "prodigy" and "prodigious" was the one which meant wasteful. But you're right, it's the other way around.

Encrypt (5, Insightful)

Neutral_Observer (1409941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266614)

Encrypt anything that goes "On Grid".

Re:Encrypt (4, Insightful)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266672)

We've had the ability to encrypt email for years, and we battled for PGP, yet no one uses it. The question is how do you get people to encrypt email by default, particularly when it requires participation by both sides. Add this challenge to IM.

Re:Encrypt (5, Funny)

Neutral_Observer (1409941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266792)

I have been working on an application that makes this easy for every... hold on, someone is at the door.... ****carrier lost****

Re:Encrypt (5, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266892)

Encryption may not help you here. When we get to talking about graph analysis and learning, suddenly who you are talking to becomes as interesting as what you are talking about.

You might be identified as threat based sole on what would seem to be unusual information flows. For example, if someone in say HR is trading lots of mails with someone in accounting, an other person in inventory management, and finally a couple of warehouse shipping clerks, such a system might flag it as a possible theft conspiracy to steal inventory.

It would be unusual for such a ad-hoc group to be exchanging information at high frequency, and might warrant scrutiny. You can discover that and flag it independent of the the messages being encrypted or not. It could be completely innocent of course, they might just be on the company volleyball team together. Still its an interesting technology.

Re:Encrypt (2)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267094)

That is very true. I believe there is an opportunity to anonymize communications via P2P technology. Sometimes, the best way to hide a sound is to create lots of noise. When all of our direct communications become meaningless due to the randomness of P2P, and our intended communications require a random number of P2P hops, and the process is protected with encryption, it becomes very difficult to discern the intended communications graph from the random P2P one.

Re:Encrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267770)

Sometimes, the best way to hide a sound is to create lots of noise.

And the best way to hide a valid email is with a spamjaculator.

Re:Encrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267796)

True, but when it comes to who I talk to I have nothing to hide. I still like some privacy about how I phrase my emails to my imaginary girlfriend, /dev/null.

Re:Encrypt (3, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267878)

When we get to talking about graph analysis and learning, suddenly who you are talking to becomes as interesting as what you are talking about.

No, it's interesting, but it's not as interesting. "Looks like he called his wife again," doesn't tell you a whole lot.

Imagine you're trying to decide which house to burgle. Some sends a message to someone else who is planning a party. You really want to know if they said, "I'll be there and am bringing a few growlers of homebrew quadbock. We are getting so 'faced! Can I crash at your place?" or "sorry, can't make it. I'm teaching the kids how to recycle ammo brass that night."

Re:Encrypt (1)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268670)

Anyone who uses their own employer's email system to carry out conspiracy and fraud deserves to get caught.

Re:Encrypt (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266930)

Encryption is standard for XMPP now. Why it isn't for all the other protocols I have no idea. Regardless, unless the encryption keys are self signed the government can get a copy of them anyway. IMHO, your correct about PGP. It should be part of the signing up for an account process. Unfortunately, the most popular email clients don't give PGP any thought.

Re:Encrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267412)

Try telling that to google. And, s2s-tls is about as secure as smtp-tls....

Re:Encrypt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266980)

There are a few reasons why it hasn't happened:

1. PGP is stupid. It's non-standard and often requires weird add-ons to make it work with whatever software you are using.

2. S/MIME is a standard and is what everything should have used from the beginning but now the market is fragmented between PGP and S/MIME leading to confusing. I still think everything should switch to S/MIME and completely dump that PGP crap.

3. Once you get past 1 and 2 now the issue is how to get certs. This is probably the biggest stumbling block. Who manages the CA's and people need to able to get certs for free. Who decides which ones can be trusted? Granted, you don't always need trust, sometimes you just need encryption. The issue of how to get certs to users has and is the biggest problem.

Private key (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267060)

We've had the ability to encrypt email for years, and we battled for PGP, yet no one uses it.

To use PGP to sign and encrypt webmail, users have to upload their private keys to the webmail server. Solve this and you might find more people using PGP.

Re:Private key (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267224)

There was an article here a couple of weeks ago about a browser plugin that managed your private keys and worked with webMail. I don't think many people are interested, which is unfortunate.

Re:Private key (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267464)

There was an article here a couple of weeks ago about a browser plugin that managed your private keys and worked with webMail.

Good luck seeking permission to install that browser plug-in on all computing devices that you use, even if they're not full-size PCs. Wasn't Microsoft promising a plugin-free IE [msdn.com] in the Metro environment of Windows 8? And good luck seeking permission to install that browser plug-in on all PCs that you use but do not own, such as a PC in the break room at work, a PC in the library, a PC belonging to a relative whom you are visiting, etc.

Re:Encrypt (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268188)

"We've had the ability to encrypt email for years"

That was never the issue, the problem is it was OPT IN, encryption should have been built in and on by default from the start. That's the real issue.

Re:Encrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268428)

the only way to get people 'onboard' is to make it easy. the most obvious way to make it easy is to build it into the software/communication protocol so that it is 'automatic'. unfortunately, US companies will then hand the keys to the protocol over to the US government out of fear of government retribution or out of hope for government favors. the federal government has too much power without PRODIGAL. that's why it's happening. that is the nature of power. it has gravity and attracts more power unto itself. We The Spoiled People readily give our lives over to the government for convenience and 'security'. we've been programmed to be ok with this.

Re:Encrypt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266870)

Encrypting your communications will likely be flagged as extremely suspicious, and will get the attention of a lot of people, and will probably get you on a lot of black lists.

HTTPS becomes more widespread (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267114)

So why don't people get flagged as extremely suspicious for visiting a web site with a dedicated IP and an SSL certificate, like these?
  • https://www.google.com
  • https://en.wikipedia.org
  • https://bugzilla.mozilla.org
  • https://launchpad.net
  • https://www.chase.com
  • https://www.profedcu.org
  • https://www.paypal.com
  • https://www.philshobbyshop.com

I guess part of the reason for existence of EFF's HTTPS Everywhere initiative is to make encryption not look suspicious.

Re:HTTPS becomes more widespread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267180)

because your private key is stored with Verisign and easily retrievable (e.g. by government agency) when necessary.

Re:HTTPS becomes more widespread (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267182)

Those are all businesses, its ok for them to use encryption. However, it is forbidden fruit for you mate.

Re:HTTPS becomes more widespread (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267486)

Anybody can start a business.

Re:HTTPS becomes more widespread (2)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267380)

what about https://www.slashdot.org [slashdot.org] ?

Oh wait...

You appear not to be a subscriber. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267706)

If you were a subscriber, Slashdot wouldn't be redirecting all pages except login to HTTP. I imagine that this is because Slashdot uses third-party advertising networks, which are historically less likely to offer pure HTTPS. Notice that the sites I mentioned either sell goods (e.g. Phil's Hobby Shop), make their money processing payment (PayPal, banks, and CUs), are run by non-profit organizations (Bugzilla, Wikipedia, and CUs), run their own ad network (Google), and the like.

Re:Encrypt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267310)

At a bare minimum, encourage secure POP, IMAP, and SMTP. I handle all the networking at my company and notice that quite a bit of the traffic that our Ironport appliances send is encrypted ie., negotiates TLS for the SMTP sessions. All the major ISPs and Webmail hosts appear to support it and many of the individually hosted email servers do as well.

Obviously this does nothing for individual emails once they're on the servers, but at least a lot of the info is (theoretically) protected in transit.

Re:Encrypt (1)

Openstandards.net (614258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267602)

Individuals might initially send through secure SMTP. But, from that point on, I don't think the relays will use it. Thus, you can securely drop it off at your ISP or whatever SMTP you're email client is configured to use. But, to transport it to the destinations in the TO/CC/BCC addresses, it has to relay it. At this point, it will likely use port 25.

Re:Encrypt (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268262)

Actually what I have observed the typical behavior of most mail servers in the commercial business I have been associated with doing is to try and encrypt than fall back to clear text. When they go to relay out they will connect in the clear, issue a START TLS, if they get a 2XX response code TLS goes forward, if not they move forward plain text.

Technology Exists Already (3, Interesting)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266670)

I interviewed for a major life insurance company. They already have the ability to monitor all that stuff (except for texts, but that seems trivial if you have access). I know for a fact a previous employer of mine had that capability and used it as well.

The only interesting thing about this is they asked Georgia Tech to help instead of a more traditional defense-type contractor.

Do you think they look up definitions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266674)

Do you think they look up definitions of the the words they use as acronyms?

prodigal/prädigl/
Adjective:
Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.

Wastefully extravagant and crossing the line of security and into the realm of invasion of privacy.

Re:Do you think they look up definitions? (3, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266780)

That's the two criteria for a government technology project. This one is pure gold as far as they're concerned.

What's stopped them in the past? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266680)

If the government really wanted to read your email, they've had a decade to freely do so. No, they still can't read pgp encrypted emails without some serious devotion. If you suspect the government is reading your emails, it's only to build a case against you and leaving the country might be smart. Otherwise you have little to worry about. Nobody is dumb enough to store all their personal stuff in their third party mailbox right? :)

wrong images (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266710)

"I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

There's your problem.

People don't mind because they don't understand what is really going on. With this or any other privacy intrusion (ignoring if this particular one is real or not).

Cherie, no human being is reading your mails. Computers with natural language engines are, and they are searching for and generating patterns. Human beings come in long afterwards. They don't get to read your mails, what they get is a summary of your preferences, opinions, buying habits, and probably some kind of score indicating (depending on who is doing the spying) if you're a good customer, a potential terrorist, have the right political agenda, etc. etc.

The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

Re:wrong images (5, Insightful)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266750)

Scary isn't it. No one will care until it becomes a problem for themselves; then they wonder what happened....

Re:wrong images (3, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267816)

I care. I try to educate people. They look at me like I'm off my nut.

Re:wrong images (2)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268500)

Isn't that the truth. In fact, I often feel like Im being judged as someone that has something to hide because I speak up about it. I guess what I meant by "no one will care" is the very large majority do not. I have no statistics but I like its 99.99% do not care, cannot see the dangers, do not think it can or will happen.

Re:wrong images (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266872)

Maybe when she realize that they also peek in her sexual life, she would change her mind (even if it is still "boring").

Re:wrong images (3, Insightful)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267020)

Future TSA worker:

"Ah, you can't fly, in fact, I'm supposed to arrest you. Come here please."

"Oh, you say this is a mistake?"

"Don't worry, this is just a result of a feature with a work-around. I'm sure they'll fix these bugs in CIA 2.0. In the meantime, enjoy your stay in Leavenworth."

Re:wrong images (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267086)

And, heaven forbid she ever becomes a political "problem". You can be sure that any negative iota of information gleaned from scanning her communications will find its way to a media outlet.

Re:wrong images (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267160)

No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

s/can/will/g because that would compromise the inputs and the scoring algorithm. If you generate enough fuss then perhaps you'll get yourself whitelisted (and put on another list of people to watch anyway) but you probably have to reveal twice as much personal information to do it.

She's already done for Re:wrong images (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267408)

Cherie Anderson:
Anderson, nordic last name: aryan flag, militia flag, christian flag, racial solidarity flag

Person match:
Slashdot, an open techno-social resistance site: knowledge flag, ideals flag, subversion flag, networking flag, anonymous flag, hacking flag, criticism flag, hub flag, unusual interests flag
Discovery, an unredacted popular science site: knowledge flag, inspiration flag, networking flag, science flag, news flag, hub flag, unusual interests flag
Travel agency AB7311C2, a "prime interest" industry: owner flag, subversion flag, knowledge flag, hub flag, transportation flag, capabilities flag, insider flag, resources flag, moneylaundering flag, financial flag, offensive category 111F flag, defensive category 02B3 flag

Quotations:
Flagged words: Patriot Act, death
Pattern counts: 2 "I"'s per sentence, narcissist flag

Location:
California: troublemaker flag, insolvency flag, social unrest flag, extremism flag

Re:wrong images (1, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267582)

The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

No, no, and HELL no. Your paranoid-delusions in no way reflect reality. The no-fly list at this point contains some 10,000 names. That's one out of every 30,000 americans. As a comparison, the "Terrorist Watch List" contains 400,000+ names. So, even though the the vast majority of the people on the terrorist-watch-list don't make the "no fly list", you expect me to believe that computer algorithms are automatically putting people on it based on innocent e-mails?

STFU. Seriously.

Yes, this system, like EVERY FRIGGIN' TOOL WE'VE EVER COME UP WITH has the potential to be abused. No, it is not currently being abused, nor is there any indication that it will be in the future. You seriously need to get some perspective.

Re:wrong images (4, Informative)

CarbonShell (1313583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267724)

Uhm, wasn't Sen. Kennedy on the No-Fly list at one time? Not to mention people like Robert J. Johnson, John Lewis

or

Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that the following exchange took place at Newark on 1 March 2007, where he was denied a boarding pass "because I [Professor Murphy] was on the Terrorist Watch list." The airline employee asked, "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." "I explained," said professor Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution." To which the airline employee responded, "That'll do it."

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Fly_List [wikipedia.org]

Re:wrong images (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268046)

So let me get this straight ... your evidence that the list is being abused hinges on the off-the-cuff remark of an anonymous airport employee?

Why don't you think about that for a minute and then get back to me.

Also, it's worth pointing out that the wikipedia page - and the article it quotes as a source - selectively quote the incident in order to make it appear as if McCormick was denied entry to the plane. This is false. He was selected for secondary screening. I find it amusing that he made such a big deal out of it, and then mentioned that he used to be a marine. I've been selected for secondary screening, WHILE IN UNIFORM, and flying back from a 2 week military exercise.

Context matters.

Re:wrong images (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268490)

[Sarcasm] I'm absolutely sure that any misuse was just a complete misunderstanding. [More more likely never, ever happened.]

I mean really, counter-intelpro, Iran Contra, Watergate, due-process free assassination of US citizens [on exclusive executive branch say-so] are all just pure misunderstanding. We'd never really do something wrong. [I mean, if the president does it, it, *by definition,* it isn't illegal.]
[/Sarcasm]

The Prima facie case of misuse is that it's a "black" program.

1) The rules for getting on the list are secret.
2) How you get off is secret.
3) Who is on the list is secret.

Secret rules for secret laws for a secret government = abuse.

That is pretty much all that needs to be said. When people [pretty much any people] are allowed carte-blanche to do as they will, abuses will occur.

The only way that is [sometimes] prevented or rectified is accountability to the populace.

Once accountability is lost - and believe me, secret laws, and secret programs, by secret police because we must be *scared*, very *scared* causes a loss of accountability - once that accountability is lost, then abuses happen. It's just a forgone conclusion.

Examine the written history of man.

So, while you may want to demand evidence - I say there is no need.

Abuses happen when the laws, and their enforcement and prosecution are secret. Not might happen, just will and do happen.

Anyone who takes even the most cursory examination of history will very quickly come to that conclusion. Thus, your asking "show me the evidence" - I think it shows that either
1) You're woefully uninformed about the nature of people
or
2) You're just a shill for whatever abusive authoritarian structure is currently in place and feign ignorance of the results of such policies.

If it's option #1 - I pity you. You're a stupid git and simply can't grasp that fact.
If it's option #2 - they I pity me, since you're likely to place me on one of those secret list, based on secret laws written by our secret government. [Because, it's clear, I'm a subversive threat!]

Re:wrong images (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267630)

" Computers with natural language engines are, and they are searching for and generating patterns. Human beings come in long afterwards. They don't get to read your mails, what they get is a summary of your preferences, opinions, buying habits, and probably some kind of score indicating (depending on who is doing the spying) if you're a good customer, a potential terrorist, have the right political agenda, etc. etc."
Funny but I doubt that the government cares too much about your buying habits.

I said this about 15 years ago and I will say it again. Anyone that thinks that normal email or posts on the internet are private is just dumb. An email is as private as a postcard. It is open text and always was. Get encryption or just accept that email is not private. Phone calls and mail is private and has protections. IMs and TXTs I am not sure if they are protected or not.
What you post on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and or Slashdot is so not private and if you think that it is well....
As far as advertisers. Well I am all for targeted ads. I want more ads about motorcycles, model aircraft, computers, and camping and less about adult diapers and viagra.

Reminds me of The Cube (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268256)

Wasn't the premise of that movie that some systems are becoming so complex that they are doing things nobody wished for and nobody knows about?

Re:wrong images (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268382)

The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

For the life of me I don't understand why LEA would share such a valuable feedback channel with terrorists... Am I on the no fly list? ... How about now? .. Now? .. Now??? ... Seriously still not on your list?

Not News (4, Interesting)

Prodigal86sc (912039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266722)

The NSA has been doing this since 2003, probably before. It's extra creepy that DARPA is now in on the act, but that's about it. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/04/70619 [wired.com]

Re:Not News (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266962)

Well - assuming that the NSA has/is doing it on a large scale that long, then it occurs that this could just be a case of slow information dissemination, which works well when you want folks to become slowly acclimated to an idea that they would initially find completely unacceptable.

Re:Not News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267748)

The NSA has been doing this since 2003, probably before. It's extra creepy that DARPA is now in on the act, but that's about it.

Creepy for you, but bread and butter for program officers looking to add bullets to their resumes,, which has the added effect of otherwise keep the military machine running. The boiling frogs analogy works as well.
 

Re:Not News (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268548)

Wasn't Echelon [wikipedia.org] making news/noise even before 9/11. If my failing memory serves me correct this once, I think I was hearing about Echelon before y2k.

Total Information Access (TIA) (1)

Grymlorde (2318046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266752)

This is exactly the premise behind the mini-series "The Last Enemy" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0966151/) and it's giant database called TIA or Total Information Access. In the mini-series, a mathematician is hired to develop an algorithim to analyze the mountains of data. And now life is going to imitate art once again. . .!

Re:Total Information Access (TIA) (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267214)

Art imitiates life. "Total Information Access" was a real DARPA program. It was "cancelled", but of course that just means they changed the name. Perhaps to "PRODIGAL". As I recall, the symbol for TIA was the all-seeing eye (the one on the back of the dollar bill), which was probably DARPA trolling the paranoids.

C.f. "prodigal son" and "returning" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268484)

Clearly, the choice of the moniker "PRODIGAL" is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that "TIA" was never cancelled, and is now back.

And as for the logo, I have to wonder if the more appropriate "all-seeing eye" wouldn't be the one ringed in flame.

Cheers,

Re:Total Information Access (TIA) (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267226)

Actually, no, that's art imitating life.

In 2003, a program called "Total Information Awareness" was created to intercept all Internet traffic and try to process it looking for phrases the NSA and others in government might find interesting. In 2007, the newly elected Congress defunded it (mostly Democrats, with the support of a few libertarians like Ron Paul). The NSA responded by shifting the efforts into different programs that they didn't have to explain to Congress.

I bet it already is (0)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266756)

being used on the population at large, look how popular Google is and Google is in bed with the NSA, which mean that your gmail account is snooped daily or even hourly and if your a person of interest probably copies of everything is continuously sent to the government spooks so they get copies of your email as fast as you do.

Re:I bet it already is (1)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266804)

Come on now let's be realistic. If you are a person of interest they get your email BEFORE you do.

idle hands... (2)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267628)

This man traffics in weapons-grade boredom, lock him up!


Actually, the typical slashdotter's interest in the following topics would probably be regarded with suspicion and get them put on some list:
  • cryptography
  • chemistry
  • non-corporate software
  • aeronautics
  • microbiology
  • libertarianism
  • model rocketry
  • trainspotting
  • privacy
  • tinfoil hats
  • mocking people who wear tinfoil hats
  • fashion
  • animal husbandry
  • crystallography
  • bathhouses

Re:I bet it already is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266824)

YAWN.

New what? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266812)

What is new? The "US", the "government", or the "project"? The monitoring is part is not new i suppose...

Money better spent (5, Insightful)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266878)

The thing is, as crime goes, terrorism is rare and the threat hasn't change appreciably in 50 years ( no matter what the evening news says ). The type of criminal activity in the US and international finance industries, however, is unprecedented and capable of causing far more damage. Unfortunately, we don't bring as many resources to bear on the greater threat to the country.

Re:Money better spent (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267462)

Except that this will not be used to police businesses; businesses will just encrypt all their emails. The point of this sort of monitoring is to police the lower-level crimes: drug smuggling, child exploitation, violations of embargoes, etc. Most black market transactions that are negotiated or conducted entirely on the Internet are done without encryption or using very poor encryption systems (e.g. Hushmail) because they tend to involve less educated people (or perhaps less tech-savvy people).

On Reddit yesterday... (4, Interesting)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266890)

I know we're supposed to look down on Reddit as Slashdot-lite, but someone posted an interesting question [reddit.com] there yesterday:

The ghost of Plato offers you one of two pills. If you take the blue pill, from now on your government will precisely represent the will of its people. If you take the red pill, your country will be seized by an intelligent dictator whose political views are identical to yours. Which will it be?

It's almost a difficult choice until you read things like "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind", and then you realize you'd grab the red pill so fast you'd yank Plato's arm off. Participatory government is dead.

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267194)

That doesnt mean theyte representing the will of the people, only that the people.dont care abouy the end result of government choice (such as the lady above said). Its the attitude of "we dont want it, but what good does saying.no do when theyll just go and doit anyway". Its along the same lines of why my wife doesnt vote.. because "it's all screwed up and it doesnt matter what i vote"

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (1)

koja86 (2446512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267288)

Wonder if only dumbasses in old Greece were without voting privileges or how else could be democracy invented...

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268120)

Greece's 'democracy' may not have been [bbc.co.uk] as people generally believed it to be.

It's not exactly the red pill, but (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267344)

I'll take the orange pill: an intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind.

Re:It's not exactly the red pill, but (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267548)

I'll take the orange pill: an intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind.

I'll take the orange and red striped pill: An intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind, but whose actions are just different enough from optimum to ensure that me and mine get to live the good life. And so the corruption begins ;-)

You and yours (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267620)

I'll take the orange and red striped pill: An intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind, but whose actions are just different enough from optimum to ensure that me and mine get to live the good life.

You and yours are humankind.

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267704)

Everybody would like a dictator that rules "their way" because everyone else is stupid and wrong, in fact it's a thinly veiled way of asking if you'd like to become that dictator yourself. Except that's not how it works, because everyone can take the blue pill and have their fair share of democracy but only one person gets to pick the red pill. So the question is, would you really take a lottery where one person gets to appoint a dictator for life? I mean you could get lucky, but you might also want a one-way plane ticket out of there before your new randomly-chosen overlord closes the border. Weird as it sounds, the politicians you have are actually moderates compared to what you could get.

Besides, if you want that dictatorship to not get overthrown in the first five minutes, that dictator has to cease control and keep it - people don't obey by magic. You might find that even if you are doing the "right thing" and have the people's best interest at heart, what you have to do to force it upon them actually makes the cure worse than the problem. It won't be long before your dictator passes mass surveillance laws of his own - for the people's own good, of course. Nothing like a government that's decided they're right and the people wrong, surely some reeducation camps will make people understand. That's worked so well in the past.

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268048)

Besides, if you want that dictatorship to not get overthrown in the first five minutes, that dictator has to cease control and keep it - people don't obey by magic.

Pretty sure you mean "seize" control there, as "cease" in this context would mean to give up control.

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267848)

Participatory government is dead.

Indeed. Forget about a representative democracy, 9/11 has put the goal of a totalitarian bureaucracy in America quite over the top for the richest ~100,000 families who actually control the world. The final peice is in place- now we get the fruits of that labor. Watch now for the main goal to be set in motion- population control. These people are using every trick in the book- 9/11, the global warming myth, etc, to effect this goal. Read William Engdahl, anything you can find. This guy is the only person I've read who's not a crackpot and can see the entire game. He has a lot of stuff on youtube.

Re:On Reddit yesterday... (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268390)

Democracy isn't some panacea. As Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."

The problem isn't that the red pill is a wrong choice, the problem is that there are no benevolent dictators, or at least no reliable supply of them. (Yes, I know the question said intelligent, but presumably the intelligence would be used benevolently, otherwise we already have plenty of countries with intelligent, but not particularly benevolent, dictators.)

it does matter (5, Insightful)

Killer Instinct (851436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266900)

In the old days, the ATF would just make up some charges against you (meth, guns), keep the press/news 2 miles away from your compound (Waco) and charge in shooting and setting fires to a building with your family in it. Now they can say "we have a report from our security system" that you are a threat. They dont even need to make up anything as a cover story, you are on a list..'nuf said. Theres a saying ive seen on here, around the net goes like this "when they came for the Jews, I didnt say anything because i wasnt a jew. when they came for the gays, i didnt say anything because I wasnt gay. Now they are coming for me, and theres no one left to say anything". The point is, with a system in place like this it is too easy to abuse and we are one step closer the end. And we cant stop it now, without a lot of people getting really upset, the very thing this system will detect and prevent. We are at the point now where we decide the next step in our evolution. Up until now, evolution had a pretty decent set of "rules" where the species that evolved certain traits, stuck around longer. At this point a system like this will make sure someone's idea of the next generation, will be followed, circumventing natural selection, and probably guaranteeing the human race, as we know it, will cease to exist.

-KI

Re:it does matter (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267802)

Theres a saying ive seen on here, around the net


        First they came for the Communists,
        but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.

        Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,
        but I was neither, so I did not speak out.

        Then they came for the Jews,
        but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.

        And when they came for me,
        there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoller [raoulwallenberg.net]

Re:it does matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268434)

This country depends on illegal immigrant labor. For that to work, people cannot be tracked too closely. So don't worry, everything will be OK.

Brainwashed? (2)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266942)

"I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind,"
I guess it's ok since it's only just part of the Patriot Act.

Re:Brainwashed? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268000)

No, just gullible and too dumb to question.

Silly Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266954)

You act like this is something new. Here (the UK), we have had email/tele snooping since Day 1. If you don't want your government to read it, don't send it electronically.

Get used to it. It's been that way for everyone else for years.

gavel.avi (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267082)

Whenever you see "Graph Analysis and Learning" you know they are teaching an AI system to make judgments. This literally is a system designed to decide if a human is a threat. All it needs is the ability to make a sound when it finds someone guilty.

Retrospective Searches (4, Insightful)

anorlunda (311253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267134)

I've assumed that the US government has been intercepting all our communications since they first had the technical ability. Why? Because of the 911 commission. Goverment really reacts and overreacts to that kind of stinging criticism that they didn't protect us.

What should we expect from them today? I expect that as soon as they find a terrorism suspect, that they are able to review his/her communications retrospectively; and also those whom he/she had contact with and so on 3 plys deep. To do that, they need an archive of everyone's messages 100% of the time, because they can't know in advance whose they want to review in the future.

I too hate big brother and I hate invasions of my privacy. However, it is unrealistic to expect the feds to not fully exploit 21st century technology. If we were smart, we would give up on trying to restrict what data they gather and focus on restricting what they can do with gathered information.

Re:Retrospective Searches (1, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267792)

I've assumed that the US government has been intercepting all our communications since they first had the technical ability.

I look at this the same way I might view a person who said to me "I've always assumed that an invisible Bigfoot watches me whenever I masturbate".

What should we expect from them today? I expect that as soon as they find a terrorism suspect, that they are able to review his/her communications retrospectively; and also those whom he/she had contact with and so on 3 plys deep. To do that, they need an archive of everyone's messages 100% of the time, because they can't know in advance whose they want to review in the future.

Also, they're flying interstellar UFO's out of area 51. And don't forget the Alien Autopsies.

C'mon man ... REALLY? This is a tech-site. I know a lot of us are sci-fi fans, too, but primarily we're supposed to be tech geeks. How in the world could anyone who is familiar with modern technology convince themselves that the US government has the capabilities you've just described? Is it a case of paranoia overriding common sense, or is there some other problem?

Idiot (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267228)

From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'"

What an idiot. The problem is not a boring civil servant reading her emails and at most noting "oh how interesting, someone ordered flowers for Charles Manson again". The problem is her competitor donating money to a politicians campaign and inadvertently getting a copy of her emailed sales plan. The problem is a subcontractor of a contractor getting a copy of all emailed credit card numbers, ID thefting them, and she must be to blame, after all, she is the "only" common link. The problem is the civil servant's drug addicted gang member brother getting a copy of her bank statements, and noticing she makes all her weekly cash deposits at 3 pm on wednesdays, and being california, he's heavily armed, and she is completely disarmed. The problem is she tries to negotiate a better contract with her flower supplier, but thru "national technical means" her flower supplier has a copy of all her emailed communication with her accountant, and knows exactly how much profit he can extract from her. The problem is her local political muscle noticing via emailed sales figures that she is not donating the "correct" percentage of gross revenue to the politicians re-election campaign. The problem is the police notice, and blame her, when recipients of her "welcome home" gift baskets have their houses broken into and ransacked after the basket is ordered and before the basket arrives. The problem is she dates a police officer, it doesn't work out, she gets stalked by a guy with total electronic access to her life. Or a disgruntled client happens to work at the station, and has access to all her future emailed delivery plans, and knows just the dark alley to drag her into, and via the emailed schedule, knows just the right time to grab her.

Re:Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267616)

For a second there it sounds like Dwight's love story.

I left and told her I'd meet her in Russia, but I don't go to Russia, I go to London, because that's where I hid the money.

Re:Idiot (1, Flamebait)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267622)

So basically there is nothing realistic to worry about.. Got it. Just the normal paranoid delusions of the slashdot wacko crowd.

Re:Idiot - Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267902)

From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'"

When I went to college, one of my classmates was Latvian and that was back when Latvia was part of the old Soviet Union. When asked whether he was concerned about mail from the Old Country being read by government censors, he said almost those identical words about letters from his grandmother.

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave!

Stop accepting privacy invasion!! This is NOT ok! (2)

bridgey655 (800826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267240)

I and millions of others protest at the US governments shameful, illegal actions worldwide and increasingly what it is doing to it's own people. With this in place, there would effectively be no opposition, and you'll be in a police state quicker than you can say nazi.

Re:Stop accepting privacy invasion!! This is NOT o (1)

bridgey655 (800826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267454)

Here is but a few worrying examples from this past couple of weeks alone! US wants to censor anything it doesnt like online, across the world: http://stopcensorship.org/ [stopcensorship.org] US wants to lock up US citizens without trial or charge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8mPZlysCAm0 [youtube.com] http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/11/congress-to-vote-next-week-on-explicitly-creating-a-police-state/ [ritholtz.com] Wikileaks exposes secret spying industry: http://wikileaks.org/the-spyfiles.html [wikileaks.org] Ron Paul tells it like it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XeCpLcjxOq4 [youtube.com] Shameful actions of US military: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-CpCUOygqU&list=PLB9FE42FDCEFA73B8&feature=plpp_play_all [youtube.com] Commercialisation of TROLLING?? http://www.addictinginfo.org/2011/11/13/facebook-opens-doors-to-a-new-way-of-suppressing-information-activists-constantly-banned/ [addictinginfo.org]

Sounds like a terrorist weapon to me . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267246)

FTFS:

"I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

What a give away! Add her to "The List"! That should fire all analysis triggers!

I'm not really sure what they are planning with this new "boring" weapon, but it appears to be deadly.

Maybe it is an acronym: B.O.R.I.N.G . . . ? We'd better investigate . . .

Is Government snooping without a warrant ok?? (2)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267252)

"From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

I recall reading something like this in the beginning of a book I recently finished reading. It was called "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

Very insightful book I must add.

This is a very slippery path we're walking down. There is a reason we have the fourth Amendment.

Seriously? (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267436)

The purpose of ADAMS is to detect insider threats. The data is easy to collect because the organization doing the analysis also owns the computer systems that are being used.

While a government organization might be spying on the American public, that problem is orthogonal to this research effort. (Also, that government organization is probably not DARPA, SAIC, or Georgia Tech.) You'd be hard-pressed to even apply the algorithms they're developing to a such a large and varied population because of the high false positive rate.

I'm shocked! (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267440)

My private communications should be kept between myself, my closest friends, and my sysadmin [slashdot.org] .

More specifically, +5, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267924)

      lattices to link communicating "SUSPECTS".

Yours In Osh,
K. Trout

Nothing to Hide (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38268234)

[S]he's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."

Anyone who's okay with the federal government reading their email should likewise be okay with a random stranger reading their e-mail. The government doesn't have any more need-to-know than anyone else, *especially* if you're doing nothing wrong. The argument that they are ruling people out as non-threats is fallacious: if you were ruled out, there would be no need for further monitoring, which tells us what should be obvious: that people are never ruled out.

So if you're really okay with the government reading your email, go ahead and put your money where your mouth is, and post all of your sent and received messages somewhere that's publicly viewable. After all, there's a chance the government might miss something, and if it saves even one life, it's worth it, right? Right?!

Obligatory Snow Crash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38268660)

Not that it's any big secret, who comes in first. When you sign on to a
workstation in the morning, it's not like the central computer doesn't
notice that fact. The central computer notices just about everything. Keeps
track of every key you hit on the keyboard, all day long, what time you hit
it, down to the microsecond, whether it was the right key or the wrong key,
how many mistakes you make and when you make them. You're only required to
be at your workstation from eight to five, with a half-hour lunch break and
two ten-minute coffee breaks, but if you stuck to that schedule it would
definitely be noticed, which is why Y.T.'s mom is sliding into the first
unoccupied workstation and signing on to her machine at quarter to seven.
Half a dozen other people are already here, signed on to workstations closer
to the entrance, but this isn't bad. She can look forward to a reasonably
stable career if she can keep up this sort of performance.
          The Feds still operate in Flatland. None of this three-dimensional
stuff, no goggles, no stereo sound. The computers are all basic flat-screen
two-dimensional numbers. Windows appear on the desktop, with little text
documents inside. All part of the austerity program. Soon to reap major
benefits.
          She signs on and checks her mail. No personal mail, just a couple of
mass-distributed pronouncements from Marietta. ...

        Y.T.'s mom pulls up the new memo, checks the time, and starts reading
it. The estimated reading time is 15.62 minutes. Later, when Marietta does
her end-of-day statis-tical roundup, sitting in her private office at 9:00
P.M., she will see the name of each employee and next to it, the amount of
time spent reading this memo, and her reaction, based on the time spent,
will go something like this:
          Less than 10 min. Time for an employee conference and possible attitude
          counseling.
          10-14 min. Keep an eye on this employee; may be developing
          slipshod attitude.
          14-15.61 min. Employee is an efficient worker, may sometimes miss
          important details.
          Exactly 15.62 min. Smartass. Needs attitude counseling.
          15.63-16 min. Asswipe. Not to be trusted.
          16-18 min. Employee is a methodical worker, may sometimes get hung
          up on minor details.
          More than 18 min. Check the security videotape, see just what this
          employee was up to (e.g., possible unauthorized
          restroom break).
          Y.T.'s mom decides to spend between fourteen and fifteen minutes
reading the memo. It's better for younger workers to spend too long, to show
that they're careful, not cocky. It's better for older workers to go a
little fast, to show good management potential. She's pushing forty. She'
scans through the memo, hitting the Page Down button at reasonably regular
intervals, occasionally paging back up to pretend to reread some earlier
section. The computer is going to notice all this. It approves of rereading.
It's a small thing, but over a decade or so this stuff really shows up on
your work-habits summary.

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