Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NSA Mimics Google, Angers Senate

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the don't-be-evil-just-doesn't-work-for-us dept.

Government 193

An anonymous reader writes "In a bizarre turn of events, the Senate would prefer that the DoD use software not written by the government for the government. Quoting: 'Like Google, the agency needed a way of storing and retrieving massive amounts of data across an army of servers, but it also needed extra tools for protecting all that data from prying eyes. They added 'cell level' software controls that could separate various classifications of data, ensuring that each user could only access the information they were authorized to access. It was a key part of the NSA’s effort to improve the security of its own networks. But the NSA also saw the database as something that could improve security across the federal government — and beyond. Last September, the agency open sourced its Google mimic, releasing the code as the Accumulo project. It's a common open source story — except that the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to put the brakes on the project. In a bill recently introduced on Capitol Hill, the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives. The bill could ban the Department of Defense from using the NSA's database — and it could force the NSA to meld the project's security tools with other open source projects that mimic Google's BigTable.'"

cancel ×

193 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Privatize the governement. (4, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684501)

This seems like a result of the conservative cry to shrink the size of the federal gubmint. "Gubmint shouldn't be allowed to do internally what they can outsource to some private company" possibly owned by China. THis is sad

Re:Privatize the governement. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684581)

This sounds like the typical bigoted slash dot idiot. Always about conservative vs libtard, black vs white, because that's all our small minds can comprehend. What a wanker.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684655)

You're a wanker-ist.

Re:Privatize the governement. (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684667)

You're a wanker-ist.

Wankerologist [blogspot.co.uk] , please

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685053)

You sound like a typical repub, muddy the waters instead of addressing the issue.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685443)

You are so correct.
If only we could get a Democrat in the White House with Democrat control of the House and the Senate then things would get fixed right.
The Dems have only love (hatred only for those that think differently) and the good of the people (if they went to law school or joined a union) in their hearts.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686075)

The posts above refer to "wankers".

I'm here to inform you that congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, and most of the agencies under their direction are populated with wankers. Republitard or Dummietard doesn't matter. They're all the same. They argue between themselves, but both bunches spend their time in charge skimming off the cream, and passing it around amongst their buddies.

And, those of the rest of us who believe their lies are just as much wankers as they are.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686231)

And yet you attack republicans.
Not that they do not deserve it. Just as the Dems do.
They all want one thing. The people to bicker about small petty things while bit by bit they consolidate federal powers and remove personal freedoms.
How they go about it in the short term is different. The end game though is the same.
The end game is bad for the people.

Nah... (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684603)

It is the result of private corporations lobbying for more privatisation. "Shrink the Government" is the voter-friendly PR spin on it. We have the same in the UK...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so. Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

Re:Nah... (5, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684775)

Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

This highlights the problem with the "small government" argument. In Australia we've seen private companies run rail, road, telecommunications, electricity & water infrastructure into the ground because of conservative "small government" agendas. All that seems to happen is the companies stick their hands out for "aid" or the like to help them make bigger profits while neglecting what they are responsible for.

Re:Nah... (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684933)

In Australia, we're being gouged by just about every private company that can sink its hooks into our wallets. We should be asking for more regulation, not less.

Check this out!

'Mr Levey said in its research Choice [magazine] discovered one Microsoft software development product that was more than $8500 cheaper in the US.

"It would be cheaper to pay someone's wage and fly them to the US and back twice, getting them to buy the software while they're there,” he said.'

http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/downloads-its-cheaper-to-pay-a-wage-fly-to-the-us-and-back-twice-20120718-229in.html [theage.com.au]

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685079)

Too bad we will have at least 8 years of Tony Abbott soon... sad times in Australia, this country that I love is being ripped apart and sold to the highest bidder for no damn good reason. It has failed to work in America and if anything has only added to their problems, it will fail even more spectacularly here. Menzies would be rolling in his grave, it is frankly time we take back our country, some shit is too important to sell to the highest bidder, or defund so that it fails to justify selling it to the highest bidder.

Re:Nah... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685629)

In Australia, we're being gouged by just about every private company that can sink its hooks into our wallets. We should be asking for more regulation, not less.

How does more regulation fix the problem of a nation of fools? I'm curious how that's supposed to work since it doesn't appear to work in my country (the US).

Re:Nah... (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685975)

How does more regulation fix the problem of a nation of fools?

Checks and balances. Doesn't always work. But does that mean we should throw them out. (e.g., have the police and politicians ever colluded? should we therefore get rid of the separation of powers?)

Re:Nah... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686489)

Checks and balances.

That's not regulation. Sure one can institute checks and balances via regulation. But one can also increase the power of an institution by regulation. I'd say the latter is far more common than the former.

Re:Nah... (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686175)

It isn't regulation that destroys us - it's the lack of intelligent regulation.

After the crash of 1929, a lot of pretty smart people designed a lot of regulations, regarding the banking industry and the stock markets. About the time that George Bush Jr. took office, they got serious about deregulating banking and stocks. Notice that before Boy Bush left office, the market crashed hard - again.

Over regulation isn't good, nor is the lack of regulation good. There can be tons of worthless laws that appeal to the average fool put into place. None of them will do any good. It's intelligent regulation that matters.

Unfortunately - all the elected officials in Washington don't have enough intelligence to understand what they hell they've done in the past 12 years, let alone draft regulations to fix the damage they have done.

What's that line - "never attribute to maliciousness that which can be explained by incompetence" - or something like that. THAT is Washington!

Re:Nah... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686643)

It isn't regulation that destroys us - it's the lack of intelligent regulation.

The problem seems to be that "intelligent regulation" is rather scarce.

After the crash of 1929, a lot of pretty smart people designed a lot of regulations, regarding the banking industry and the stock markets. About the time that George Bush Jr. took office, they got serious about deregulating banking and stocks. Notice that before Boy Bush left office, the market crashed hard - again.

And the market crashed a number of times in between too. Somethings a bit wrong with your story, namely, the 70 years of history you left out.

But this does illustrate a problem of existing regulation, namely, the difficulty of undoing it. Sometimes it's like a band aid, that you can rip off easily. And sometimes it's like a Borg implant with connections to every major organ in the body. Just ripping it out can cause a great deal of turmoil and failure throughout society due to the dependencies that grew since the regulation passed.

For example, it doesn't matter how bad that 1930s regulation was (or how dumb those "pretty smart" people were). The financial industry grew up with it and changing it will cause some problems such as major crashes. It doesn't mean that it's not a good idea in the long run, but one needs to understand that any deregulation isn't going to be pure benefit.

What's that line - "never attribute to maliciousness that which can be explained by incompetence" - or something like that. THAT is Washington!

And never attribute to incompetence that which can be explained by self-interest. All this talk of "intelligent regulation" ignores the obvious. It's not in the interests of the powers that be to pass intelligent regulation in a lot of fields because it harms their power and/or income.

Re:Nah... (2)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685303)

The problem in this case (Australia's model, I mean) seems to be one of creating monopolies rather than allowing a competitive market to form. The problem with large government is essentially the same (government as a monopoly), but backed by force of law. I don't have a problem with the government having a priority order of reuse - buy - build, but I do have a problem with throwing away what's been built because it wasn't higher on that chain. That's just dumb.

Re:Nah... (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685411)

Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

This highlights the problem with the "small government" argument. In Australia we've seen private companies run rail, road, telecommunications, electricity & water infrastructure into the ground because of conservative "small government" agendas. All that seems to happen is the companies stick their hands out for "aid" or the like to help them make bigger profits while neglecting what they are responsible for.

I find it interesting that this "shrink government and privatize" trope is being expressed around the world. It makes the tinfoil hatter in me think there might be some coordination going on.

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685837)

There is obvious coordination going on - for one thing, Rupert Murdoch.

Re:Nah... (4, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684955)

It is the result of private corporations lobbying for more privatisation. "Shrink the Government" is the voter-friendly PR spin on it. We have the same in the UK...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so. Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

As a fellow Brit I have been following the G4S Olympic security blunder in the news too. I will be very surprised if it actually makes any difference in the long run to privatisation though.

We have already let G4S run several prisons as part of a pilot scheme, once the pilot is over in a year or two we will outsource more to them I'm sure. Even before this G4S had a piss poor record when it came to prisoner transport yet they were still given more contracts in a similar vein.

The simple fact is that government loves privatising stuff as it means they can push costs of large infrastructure projects down the line to the next generation. It also means they can make lots of friends in business and those friends will repay them with a nice cushy non-executive director role later on.

Re:Nah... (4, Informative)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685143)

It is the result of private corporations lobbying for more privatisation. "Shrink the Government" is the voter-friendly PR spin on it. We have the same in the UK...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so. Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

As a fellow Brit I have been following the G4S Olympic security blunder in the news too. I will be very surprised if it actually makes any difference in the long run to privatisation though.

We have already let G4S run several prisons as part of a pilot scheme, once the pilot is over in a year or two we will outsource more to them I'm sure. Even before this G4S had a piss poor record when it came to prisoner transport yet they were still given more contracts in a similar vein.

The simple fact is that government loves privatising stuff as it means they can push costs of large infrastructure projects down the line to the next generation. It also means they can make lots of friends in business and those friends will repay them with a nice cushy non-executive director role later on.

Not to forget the Tories' attempt to privatise the NHS. Also, the railways were privatised under a Tory government. Look how well that's turned out (for non-UK /.ers: the UK railway network is overpriced, severely limited in capacity, and slowly falling apart).

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685655)

I'm sorry, but the government loves to privatize stuff because they can then steer the contracts to their "buddies". Brit, Ozzie, Yank, same story. Privatize the work so that when I leave office, I'll have a nice cushy job to go to.

Re:Nah... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684987)

"...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively..." - what a twisted world you must imagine to live in for you to consider G4S debacle "fortunate" in any way.

"...shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office" - and you can't as those managers would be civil servants, not politicians (not that you, personally, can vote out a politician anyway); private companies have to compete for contracts, their managers can be sacked by shareholders while a governmental agency with no competition can get away with all sorts of inefficiencies and waste and happily live, unchanged and unchallenged, through generations of governments just because its function is too obscure for politicians or public to take an interest in.

Re:Nah... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685105)

"...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively..." - what a twisted world you must imagine to live in for you to consider G4S debacle "fortunate" in any way.

Way to butcher a quote. I suggest you quote in full next time:

.fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so

Re:Nah... (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685071)

And "privatisation" is also spin, because what they really mean by that is "Transfer a large sum of money from the public treasury to the ownership of one or more politically connected corporations".

For example, take cruise missiles: Right now, instead of the US DoD hiring a bunch of people to design and build missiles for $X, instead they go to a defense contractor, who in turn hires a bunch of people to design and build missiles for $X and charges the DoD $X+$Y. So in effect, what's different between the DoD just building missiles and hiring a contractor to build missiles is that $Y goes from the public to the owners of the contractor company.

Re:Nah... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685633)

Father-in-law works at Booz Allen Hamilton. Retired air force big wig. Recently told me that the opposite is true, that recent legislation is returning the military offices to what had been given to the private sector in the 90's. Maybe it's just the high security stuff, like cruise missiles and nuclear fuel. At any rate, the government (or at least the military) is not liking the outsourcing model anymore. Far as I can tell, it's just a change in uniforms.

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685691)

You forgot part of that equation. It should by $X + $Y + $FutureFavorsForTheCongressCritters.

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686001)

B-b-b-but it creates jobs! Won't someone think of the jobs?!?

Re:Nah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685097)

I like to call myself a conservative. I am for smaller government, definitely. However, when it comes to national security issues, let the government handle it, that's what they are supposed to be doing. That is why we put them into office, to run the government. To protect us, not to mandate our lives.

To the asstard that was spewing crap above about (R) vs. (D), when conservatives talk of smaller government, its usually meant that they need to stop making mandates that have negative effects on the "We the people", not smaller government in the terms of crippling it, dumbass.

Re:Nah... (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685427)

Indeed. The government ideally exists to protect the natural rights of its citizens and to provide public goods. (That is, non-rivalrous and non-excludable goods, like defense or firefighting, not just whatever politicians think would be nice to provide.) When the government grows beyond this, it becomes increasingly tyrannical and eventually totalitarian.

Re:Nah... (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685815)

Most of the political conservatives I've debated seem to favor smaller government, except for... something. The something varies. The biggest conflicts seem to be in the slightly awkward alliance between political conservatives who want the government as small as possible and the social conservatives who view the government as societies way of enforcing public morality. Thus they end up campaigning for small government, except where abortion is concerned, or pornography, or drugs, or broadcast obscenity or indecency, or government-erected religious monuments, or a hundred or so other exceptions to the point where the small-government call begins to look empty.

I'm sure the social and political conservative factions would be at each other's throats by now if they didn't have a common enemy to fight in the liberal faction.

Again? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686115)

I heard about G4S when Have I Got News For You was still fresh, how many decades ago is that?

In Holland, there was/is a parliamentary inquiry into whether the efforts of privatization in the last decades has produced any positive results or at least any non-negative ones... they are still searching.

But AT THE SAME TIME, the CDA and VVD, Christian and capitalist filth, were advocating MORE of it, despite being able to name a single success or even a single non-disaster. Their solution to the mess the public rail network is in? MORE privatization.

It is often recognized that socialism and communism are ideologies, closely related to religion with believers who truly believe and refuse to take facts into account.

Here is a secret, capitalism is a religion as well and none come more blind.

You can delay the agenda but no matter what happens, no matter how big the disaster, the privatization will continue because without it, if it was recognized it did not work, capitalism would be as dead as communism.

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684635)

Government contracting is a very big industry, and quite often drive entire segments of our economy, if not priming the engine of the entire economy. Most conservatives are all in favor of smaller government...right up until the government has to shrink it's corporate contracts in order to make up for shortfalls in the budget. Then you will see blood on the floor as companies are no longer able to build roads and bridges, or tanks and helicopters.

FOSS is a double-edged sword for security wonks, in a way. The source code is available to anyone with the bandwidth to download it. The "help" here is that those interested in making sure the code is bulletproof will contribute from several vectors and fix problems. The "harm" is that anyone interested in finding the cracks in the armor doesn't have to reverse engineer to source code, since it's all right there.

So FOSS when used in secure situations becomes an arms race, where the government still has to hire a really good set of developers just to keep ahead of the hoards out there clamoring for the data the government has collected, whether they are beholden to foreign governments or private interests. At least with home-grown code they can protect the source code and have a certain amount of security-through-obscurity, even if it doesn't afford them the cost savings of spreading the development over several partners and the ability to "recruit" talent without having to hire them away from their day jobs.

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684671)

"Possibly owned by China"? That's utterly ridiculous.

Obviously it should be "Ideally owned by someone in my constituency".

Re:Privatize the governement. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684687)

Considering that this is from the Democrat controlled Senate, you can keep your Liberal leaning crap to yourself.

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685851)

Yeah, because those Democrats are just soooo liberal these days...

Re:Privatize the governement. (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684801)

This seems like a result of the conservative cry to shrink the size of the federal gubmint. "Gubmint shouldn't be allowed to do internally what they can outsource to some private company" possibly owned by China. THis is sad

Considering that this is the Democrat-controlled Senate we're talking about, instead of the Republican-controlled House, I suspect you're mistaken....

Re:Privatize the governement. (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684837)

This seems like a result of the conservative cry to shrink the size of the federal gubmint. "Gubmint shouldn't be allowed to do internally what they can outsource to some private company" possibly owned by China. THis is sad

Considering that this is the Democrat-controlled Senate we're talking about, instead of the Republican-controlled House, I suspect you're mistaken....

*sighs* don't know what I did to my html tags that time....

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685115)

Why would you assume firstly, that it is only the agenda of the republitards, and secondly, that there are not conservatives in the demorats?

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685647)

There is no need to assume that there are no conservatives (by U.S. definitions of the term) in the Democratic Party at the national level since they ran the last moderate (Joe Lieberman) out on a rail because he was not sufficiently liberal. If Joe Lieberman was too conservative for the Democratic Party, there is no way there is an actual conservative left.

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685833)

Joe Lieberman is not a moderate. This is the most twisted crazy logic. The guy lost a primary and ran as an independent. The fact that there are not primaries every time for every candidate is a shame. The United states has two conservative parties. One is more reactionary and the other slightly less so. I think you should look up what these words you are throwing around mean. Just because talk radio has created new speak definitions does not make them the definitions that exist in reality. Republican and Democratic parties are just that. They are both relatively conservative parties.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685817)

Why would you assume firstly, that it is only the agenda of the republitards, and secondly, that there are not conservatives in the demorats?

The whole idea of the modern U.S. Democratic party being "liberal" is a fucking joke in itself, anyway. There is no truly 'liberal' party in the U.S.; we've got centrist Democrats that like to call themselves liberals, and we've got the right leaning Republicans, but there are few truly left-leaning progressives in this government anymore.

Sure, compared to some of the far-right leaning reps we're seeing these days, they're liberal, but on the world stage they're just as much centrist, corporation-loving soulless bastards as their political opponents are. The entire spectrum has gotten shifted so far to the right now that the second anyone even breathes a word of support for a truly progressive policy or idea (such as Single Payer healthcare, for instance) there are angry mobs with torches and pitchforks screaming "SOCIALIST!!!11!!1!" on their doorstep.

Re:Privatize the governement. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684897)

I don't think this has anything to do with conservative or liberal, but has everything to do with Gubmint / Politicians screwing up ANYTHING it / they touch.

and people want MORE Gubmint control over their lives by voting for idiots like Obama? who claim transparency, but never actually deliver? whose only solution to any problem is to grow Gubmint and increase control over your life? talk about voting against your own self interest...

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685083)

Yahoo Comments called, they miss you.

Re:Privatize the governement. (3, Interesting)

BVis (267028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685503)

You know, I've never bought that argument. Let's say that you take the position, for example, that the ACA forces you to buy something that you might not choose to buy yourself (but if you don't buy it, you're an idiot, but that's beside the point.) Let's take the pros and cons:

Cons:
1) You have to buy health insurance.
2) Private companies have to provide services to people that they otherwise would not choose to do business with.

Pros:
1) Everyone has access to more affordable health insurance, regardless of employment status.
2) Everyone has access to more affordable health insurance, regardless of employment status.
3) Your employer cannot force you into indentured servitude by providing the health insurance that you or a family member need to continue breathing. This gives you the freedom to start your own business without worrying that you'll be unable to purchase health coverage, and therefore, say it with me now, CREATE JOBS AND GROW THE ECONOMY.
4) Insurers can't deny you coverage because of a 'pre-existing condition'.
5) Insurers can't drop your coverage when they decide you're costing them too much money.
6) People can stay on their parents' health coverage longer, giving them time to establish themselves and be able to get health insurance on their own, either through their employer or purchased independently.
7) Insurance companies cannot just raise premiums whenever the wind blows, and if they do, they have to pay you back.
8) Without

Things that are not true:
1) There are no "death panels." This is an invention of the radical right who (willfully) misinterpreted a requirement by your insurer that they pay for a visit with your (independently) chosen physician in which you privately discuss your wishes should you no longer be able to make your own decisions about end-of-life topics, such as a DNR order. The government would NOT have any say in those wishes, just that your insurer has to pay the doctor for having the discussion. (And the regulation in question was dropped from the bill before it was passed, in any event. Which is too bad, since requiring you to pay for that visit out-of-pocket presents an obstacle for being able to make your own decision about your life and the end thereof. Essentially, it makes you less free.)
2) This is NOT a government takeover of health care. Hospitals and insurers are still private companies, albeit slightly more regulated ones.
3) America will not fall apart as a result of passing this bill. There are far bigger threats to the country (and your freedoms) at the moment.
4) It is not the 'end of liberty'. You cannot be thrown in jail if you refuse to buy health insurance. You cannot be prosecuted for failing to pay the penalty for doing so. The enforcement of the individual mandate is so toothless that it's laughable. All the government can do, basically, is shake their finger at you and call you a bad person.

Essentially you're trading being beholden to a private company that you have no influence on, in exchange for an obligation under the law that you have some say over (through our representative government) that essentially cannot be enforced. I'm OK with that.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686109)

You forgot one of the most important benefits. Insurance companies must give you a rebate if they spend too much of your $$$ on advertising.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

akboss (823334) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685013)

Gee the chairman of the committee is a Democrat (Carl Levin) out of Michigan. So yep it is those big, bad, mean, grumpy 'ol conservatives that are doing this. Unless you mean those Nazis in the TEA Party then they are big, bad, mean, grumpy, nazis, baby killer, warmongers. Sheesh cant even google it just has to slam people.

Re:Privatize the governement. (4, Insightful)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685163)

From a European's point of view, all US politicians are conservatives.

Re:Privatize the governement. (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686011)

Goddamn right. This is why I find all the hysterics these days about Socialism and Liberals and all that shit so fucking funny...the people going apoplectic over "leftists" would probably have a heart attack if they were being represented by a real liberal, and not the Center-Right Democrats we have today.

I chalk it up to selective perception and ignorance. I mean, look at how many people here in the U.S. are screaming about how tyrannical and broken the National Health Service and it's equivalents are, while the people that are actually using said services shake their heads and wonder what the hell they're smoking because they can't imagine life without it. I can count on one hand how many times I've heard a Canadian bitch about waiting lists (which, to be fair, the bulk of the time was because they had an elective procedure they wanted to get done right now and didn't feel they should have to wait behind all the people that actually NEED treatment right away, poor babies) compared to most everyone else whose come out in support of it.

What the fuck happened over the last 30 or so years in this country? It's like the second Reagan was elected the collective IQ of this country dropped by a few dozen points...

Re:Privatize the governement. (2, Interesting)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686065)

To be fair, the United States was founded by puritan nutjobs who wanted to out of a liberal and free Europe so they could continue to enslave and opress at will. I've probably exagerrated a little, but not as much as you'd think.

*gets modded Flamebait in 3..2..1..*

Nine... Eleven... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685325)

Wasn't the big reason why we didn't stop the 9/11 attackers was a lack of cross departmental sharing of data. Public or Private systems, it seems like they are going back to the old ways of doing things again.

Re:Privatize the governement. (1)

trcooper (18794) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685767)

I believe the idea behind the policy is that the government should not offer products that compete with the private sector.

For instance, you have a subscription website that offers say, high end weather information and analytics. You've spent thousands of hours developing software which takes raw data and improves it. You've built a subscriber base, and provide a service they're happy with, and continue to innovate and improve.

Then NOAA comes out and says we're going to build a public site which directly competes with you. They're going to use taxpayer money to essentially make your business obsolete.

There's certainly arguments on both sides here. On one hand getting information to the public is valuable. But it's not free. You might say I don't want or need this information, that's why I didn't subscribe the the private company's service in the first place.

This doesn't seem to be the same case. While Google had a similar product, it didn't fit the needs of the NSA. They see that what they've done might benefit the DoD, and other areas of the government, and as they should, they release the software out to the public.

Are they directly competing with Google? I don't think so. It sounds like they're actually innovating, and not mimicking. This allows other private companies to actually pick this up and potentially compete with Google. It also doesn't prevent Google from doing the same.

This is a good thing, and not what the policy was intended to prevent.

Re:Privatize the governement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685803)

How the hell is the parent modded insightful? And what conservative thinks government catapulting billions of dollars at vendors is a good idea? (considering their platform is SPEND LESS)

Huh. (3, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684533)

Why should we get something for free when we can pay for it? Wait a minute....

Re:Huh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684625)

I think the point from TFA was "why create a new Open Source project when you could add a new feature to an existing project?"

It's a fair question, although I'm a bit surprised that it bubbled all the way up to the level of the Senate. Either indicates they are spending a LOT of money on this project, or it's a convenient line item to pick on to make it easier to ignore all the classified expenditures.

Re:Huh. (5, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684685)

I think the point from TFA was "why create a new Open Source project when you could add a new feature to an existing project?"

That is exactly what they did, Accumulo is an extension of Hadoop [apache.org]

Re:Huh. (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684673)

Why should we get something for free when we can pay for it? Wait a minute....

Because it doesn't meet your needs. Funny, I just read the Joel rant saying "Not Invented Here" is not bad. Now the subsequent Open Sourcing has to be treated as a separate decision (made later) so it's not fair to say they should have modified existing open source. They are also quite capable of putting their slant on existing open source and then releasing it - witness the SE Linux extensions courtesy of the NSA.

Re:Huh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684763)

only reason for a law like this is that some lobbyist convinced a politician to make it illegal for the government to make something his master could make money selling to the government

Sell it to Google (5, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684549)

Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives

Just arrange to sell it to Google, make them the maintainers, and buy it back for $1.

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684567)

don't you mean sell it for a $1 and buy it back for $1,000,000,000 it is only tax money after all.

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684701)

Speaking of Google -- as soon as I got my Nexus 7 in the mail and activated it, all of the Nexus 7 ads on Slashdot turned into Nexus Q ads. Did this happen for anyone else?

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685521)

I don't have ads.

Re:Sell it to Google (1)

rolias (2473422) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684725)

Now that it's open source, somebody can download it and compete to sell it back to NSA as software services for a lot more than $1. Efficiency!

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684911)

Somebody already has [sqrrl.co] .

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

hackula (2596247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684863)

Why would they want to buy it for even a dollar? The system is probably a steaming pile of $#1t compared to anything they already have or could build from scratch.

Re:Sell it to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40686453)

My thought exactly.

Humulo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684557)

Will they call the merge of Hbase and Accumulo Humulo or Acbase?

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684583)

America is backwards! the NSA was doing their best to save the US money, and instead it should have used commercial software?!?
backwards thinking, you should be praising the NSA for once (saving people money...)

Re:wow (2)

jehan60188 (2535020) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684657)

"The bill indicates that Accumulo may violate OMB Circular A-130, a government policy that bars agencies from building software if itâ(TM)s less expensive to use commercial software thatâ(TM)s already available. And according to one congressional staffer who worked on the bill, this is indeed the case." Sounds like the alternatives to Accumulo are cheaper?

Re:wow (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684753)

The bid might be cheaper. The final cost will probably be 5 times the original quoted value.

Re:wow (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684845)

Exactly, and how do you even demonstrate that this is the case five or ten years out? How do you compare the two solutions?

Re:wow (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684893)

if( vendor.contributedtocampaign==true):{ return "use vendor's product";}

Re:wow (1)

mike10027 (1475975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685035)

I would not be all that surprised if it would cost more to maintain and extend Accumulo than it would to build the security features into HBase or Cassandra and allow those communities to shepherd the project. It's inherently difficult to measure -- which community (Accumulo's or somebody else's) is more active or productive, or has more potential to be so, and how do you value that monetarily? I guess you weigh it against the cost of support hours that would be needed otherwise. I think the OMB directive at its core is the right move, and even has the potential to push government dollars or tech support into OSS projects (versus USG building stuff in-house that may or may not get released and may or may not die a swift death).

Re:wow (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686641)

I would not be all that surprised if it would cost more to maintain and extend Accumulo than it would to build the security features into HBase or Cassandra and allow those communities to shepherd the project.

Were either HBase or Cassandra in such a state at the time work on Accumulo was initiated that it would have been reasonable to conclude that using them would be better than building on Hadoop directly (which is what Accumulo did)?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684791)

Of course, "congressional staffers" have no axes to grind. They're humble public servants, dedicated to the truth, and pure as the driven snow.

Someone's fund was not properly slushed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684617)

Some congress person's fund needs slushing. If the NSA writes its own software no money changes hands, therefore no graft can take place. It's a serious problem.

Take a look at the metadata of legislation .pdfs (2)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684641)

for bills &c.

They're created w/ a tool named ACOMP.EXE (which the GPO used to use to make their style manual --- which typeset exactly like a printed copy I have from 1943 --- the new version is done w/ Adobe InDesign CS3 though).

If the Senate can use a special software tool for so prosaic a function, why can't other parts of the government?

William

(who recently had to download the successor to NIH (National Institute of Health) Image to make a reasonably-sized bitmap for placement into an automated pagination system when Adobe PhotoShop insisted on wrapping it up in all sorts of metadata, resulting in a several KB file, when JImage was able to write it out in a mere 480 bytes.)

Re:Take a look at the metadata of legislation .pdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684773)

Set Metadata to none when saving in Photoshop

Re:Take a look at the metadata of legislation .pdf (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686063)

AFAICT that's only an option when using ``Save for Web and Devices...'' --- the file in question needed to be a .tif.

This is part of the NSA's mandate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684721)

The NSA's job is to spy on other countries communications and break their codes.

It is also the NSA's job to protect US govt communications & systems by developing secure cryptosystems.

Re:This is part of the NSA's mandate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685991)

The NSA's job is to spy on everyone's communications and break their codes.

It is also the NSA's job to protect US govt communications & systems by developing secure cryptosystems.

FTFY

Outsourcing is cheaper?!? (4, Insightful)

mitcheli (894743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40684873)

Several years ago when I was a young service member and working for around $25K a year to develop software for the military, I was told that the military was moving away from GOTS solutions and was mandating that everyone move to COTS software. They replaced my position with contractors that made $75K a year and ultimately with multi hundred million dollar contracts with contracting firms who "integrate" in COTS solutions. Granted having become one of those contractors myself and having over doubled my pay in that time frame, I do have to admit I appreciate that cheaper COTS solution. Though I do often times wonder to myself if the Government centralized their development efforts, tracked industry standards for producing secure code, and further developed some of the charming projects they have worked on (like SELinux) what the world would be like today. Just think, instead of knowing a huge ass hole is in your current revision of router code, you could simply send it off to the developers to repair. No lack of a $100K+ support contract to prevent you from getting a patch...

Re:Outsourcing is cheaper?!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40684959)

This reminds me of my govt service in the ancient times. The place wasn't concerned about the expense/dollar amount, but it was particularly allergic to head count. I suspect that attitude is behind the "smaller govt" push by many folks - don't have bodies that suck down benefits for decades. Sending cash into (or back?) to the private sector is great, particularly if it comes to me!

Re:Outsourcing is cheaper?!? (4, Informative)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685159)

Indeed. Support contracts give the private contractors a disproportionate amount of power.

I work for the UK National Health Service ; back when I was defining interoperability standards for medical records communication, I was revising the standard for GP (General, or Family Practitioner) health record communications. The messages were declared in terms of a common standard for interoperability. Somewhat naively, I specified that the messages should use the standard means to convey unknown information (the absence, and the reason for it's absence), rather than the "magic numbers" that were being used at the time. I was promptly told that I couldn't actually make things consistent with the standard, because to change those bits of the vendor system would, under the terms of the contract, result in a full system test, which was a chargeable item costing millions of pounds.

So they had nicely arranged things such that you couldn't promote interoperability (by using a well-defined standard available to all vendors), because you couldn't afford the work they would have to do in order to fix their system to follow the government-dictated standard which they had known they would have to use all along ....

And we actually help them. I think the system testing clause is in there at the insistence of the government side ; when I was on the other side of the divide working for a private sector supplying an NHS hospital, I was told I couldn't fix bugs in our system because it would necessitate a full system test - even though I point-blank told them that this was NOT necessary because the component concerned was covered by rigorous unit tests. Instead, they rolled back the changes in their system that had broken ours (having been told not to change that aspect of the configuration in the first place).

Accumulo is an Apache 2.0 licensed extension of other OSS components - so there is no downside from the commercial side, apart from not being able to justify charging for it's cost of development. Which is what I suspect the problem is.

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price? S R Hadden - Contact

Re:Outsourcing is cheaper?!? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685167)

Let me clarify ; support contracts on closed-source implementations.

Buy before you build (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685027)

This sort of crap happens all of the time. A few years ago I was tasked to a project to re-implement an existing part of a government support system. Great. Wonderful project to be on. We'd get the hardware needed, had an existing system to base the new system on, had a bunch of user suggestions and complaints, a whole bunch of documentation to base the new system on and a core team willing and capable.

Management then said we would have to buy a product which would provide most of the new system would eventually do and tailor the rest. Management even had an existing vendor and software licence.

Here is where the project went right down the toilet. After several months it was obvious that the chosen vendor's software would not do what was needed. It had to be tossed. Then the wonderful vendor produced another software 'solution'. After a short time of wrangling with this crap our dev threatened to quit and I started looking for a new job.

Funny thing was that in the last six months as the project disintegrated and it all went south and other projects took priority in the background our dev knocked up a good prototype from scratch and had a semi functional system on the go. I did an estimate and figured that if we had started development on our own inhouse solution instead of trying to use third party software then we would have produced the system required. I was so annoyed at the end of all this that I wrote all of this up including a timeline of project comparison of buy vs build showing costs and time.

TFA does not surprise me at all. So much time and money wasted because of this type of stupidity .

Reinvent the wheel? (1, Insightful)

windcask (1795642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685029)

I suppose I'll be moderated "troll" if I suggest that the government shouldn't waste time and money rewriting software that already exists and can be licensed in the commercial market. Not that necessarily there's a tool that can support the NSA's massive data-sharing needs, but still.

Re:Reinvent the wheel? (3, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685257)

I suppose I'll be moderated "troll" if I suggest that the government shouldn't waste time and money rewriting software that already exists and can be licensed in the commercial market.

That isn't trolling at all. But I don't see why it shouldn't be handled like any other purchasing decision.

Commercial Product A cost $X
Commercial Product B cost $Y
Paying developers time to create that product will cost $Z

All else being equal, why _wouldn't_ you choose the option with the lowest cost?

Of course all else is rarely equal, but still people in companies do this kind of thing daily, weighing the cost vs benefit vs features and then factor in the other issues such as support/maintenance over the lifetime of the product and the computing resources required to use said product.

If paying developers to create it and maintain it turns out significantly cheaper than the other options, it only makes sense to create it in-house.
If buying it and paying the support contract, as well as paying for modification/customization of features turns out cheaper than other options, then it makes sense to buy the thing and not worry about it.

Without knowing dollar amounts involved and the required feature list, it's impossible to know what each option costs in whole.
We also don't really know all the factors involved. I'm sure cost is a factor in there somewhere, but it could rank anywhere from #1 to #last.

What it really means. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685093)

Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives.

This is to keep the government from wasting millions of dollars maintaining in-house software versus just buying it cheaper in the commercial sector.

The law needs updating to state that the cost to write and maintain should be cheaper versus the commercial alternative if you are going to do it in-house.

Re:What it really means. (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686159)

The law needs updating to state that the cost to write and maintain should be cheaper versus the commercial alternative if you are going to do it in-house.

That's for sure. My experience of both sides of that equation lead me to believe that private industry is all about sales, but with little actual substance. The government could save hugely.

The Chinese will love this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685107)

OMG! We must stop this severe threat to world freedom! Instead of in-house semi-secure software let's require all government agencies dealing with classified information to buy commercial software with built-in Chinese back-doors. How dare they try and keep this information safe from our oriental overlords!

Posting anon. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685113)

In a bill recently introduced on Capitol Hill, the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives

I work at a large defense contractor, so obviously I'm posting anon. My thoughts on this are as follows: indeed there are requirements to use as much COTS and/or FOSS as possible for things that already exist (and so long as the use of any does not/cannot cause no future licensing issues that can be reasonably foreseen.)

Is in an effort to avoid the "not invented here" syndrome that plagues commercial and government enterprises alike. But the operative idea is that we should use a COTS if it provides the functionality that we need. If there is some type of deviation in the type of functionality that a project needs, it is perfectly reasonable to add new logic around it (or build one from scratch altogether.)

The NSA requirements for retrieving and storing massive amounts of data, when taken as is, do sound like something that Google already does. However, there are other requirements a Google-like COTS might or might not meet or might not meet efficiently (.ie. "tweaking the COTS will cause substantial operational costs down the road", just as a hypothetical example.)

There are needs to attach security label classifiers (TS,S,R,C,SBU,U), and compartment/silos to meet "need-to-know" requirements. There can be security-related non-functional requirements that say the mechanisms for storing/retrieving information above a certain security label be also be labeled with a classifier as strict as the data being handled. Part of the software system might be required to exist within Type 1 cryptography products, with physical shielding and all. It might be required to provide interfaces and protocols aware of sneakernet and airwalls.

Things like that do not get solved by deployment schemes and configuration alone. So "mimicking google" might not be descriptive to what's really going on here.

Furthermore, it looks incredibly stupid for Congress to be telling the NSA to shelve their own FOSS and to look for a COTS alternative. Sometimes, for some types of operations, you simply do not want a COTS. Fine for building government owned systems that handles, say, tax or immigration/nationalization records. Not so fine for TS-level material.

The NSA has been guilty of some major pork-barrel mishaps, and needs fiscal supervision. Hell, the whole defense sector is plagued by inefficiencies. However, this particular action by Congress, it's not a solution.

Who benefits? (3, Informative)

time961 (618278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40685399)

Clearly, someone must have paid for this charming little legislative tidbit. But who?

I mean, I could understand if Lockheed-Martin had a proprietary solution that they were offering (with just a few change orders needed to satisfy NSA's requirements, of course), but the beneficiaries here seem to be the Cassandra and HBase projects, neither of which seem likely to have much of a lobbying budget. Was it their forebears at Facebook? Could they possibly care enough?

And blaming it on "conservatives-want-smaller-government" seems pretty silly, too. Sure, turfing Accumulo might conceivably further that goal in some tiny, tiny way, but it's not like some senator was likely to have figured this out by himself. No, clearly someone put them on to it, but who and why?

It's an intriguing mystery. Any ideas?

Yeah right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685455)

Who are they kidding? they are going to let the NSA do what they like, but the Senate doesn't want the public to know that.

"not compete with industry" is standard fed stuff (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685641)

Hmm. if you worked for a government research lab, you'd run into this all the time. Everytime you want to do something, you have to show that you, and only you (or your lab) can do this work, and that it cannot be contracted out to industry. Want to build a Mars rover? Better show that no industrial partner is capable of doing it. Want to build a prototype widget for some new idea? Better be able to show that nobody else is making something similar, nor that they've patented, nor that they've thought about it and might have mentioned it as a future product, etc. First step these days is to run a google search on what you want to do, and make sure that you can address the top 10 hits with specific reasons why your thing is different.

By this we don't unfairly compete with industry (because we don't have profit, in theory, our costs are lower), and we avoid duplication of services. By this we are removing "waste, fraud, and abuse" from government

building their own software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40685785)

>prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives.

I don't think so, all government software that was written on government time should be released in the public domain just like all research is.

"National security only matters ... (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686019)

... if my campaign donors make a profit on it."

Just yesterday I was reminded of this old chestnut:

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain

Wtf? (2)

X.25 (255792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686185)

...the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives.

Is this a joke?

This seems suspect... (2)

Heretic2 (117767) | more than 2 years ago | (#40686557)

I thought Doug Cutting, creator of Hadoop, did a lot of the work on Accumulo too. And they open-sourced it for more people to use, how can that possibly be bad? This seems backwards, it seems the NSA is doing something good here in making up some nice software and releasing it to the world. I think the real question is what sort of vested interest these senators have in the businesses that would "sell similar technology" to the gov't.

Vertically integrating your own software stack isn't necessarily a bad idea. At some scale, if you have enough internal resources, supporting your own code stack becomes more effective than dealing with a large number of third party contractors that are often competing with each-other and not 100% mission focused (think profit motivation). While it makes sense to use a COTS (commercial-of-the-shelf) application for certain problems, the problem of National Security I don't think should be corporatized. I think they should be using the best tools, whether internal or externally developed.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?