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DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the weapons-related-program-activities dept.

Privacy 256

Lifewish writes "The BBC is reporting that company MetaCarta is receiving DARPA cash to design a new system for tracking individuals based on their electronic presence. One company official is quoted as saying that 'The government and international security agencies have a desire to find, track and sometimes arrest people. Our system can be used to find them across the globe.' If you ever wondered where all that information the U.S. is collecting ended up..."

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fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179278)

mmmmmm, frosty pist!

no fucking way! (-1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179282)

they want to find, track, and arrest people? And to think I thought it was 20 years later... Guess not.

I'm buying stock in Reynolds.

Don't buy stock in Reynolds; (2, Funny)

Morologous (201459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179734)

Because they could find out that you're a non-conforming individual.

And don't buy your foil with a debit or credit card! Pay cash only, and don't use a loyalty card. Best to wear a disguise while you're at it. Too many cameras. Take the bus to the store, but don't redeem a bus ticket, use coins -- but only ones you've wiped down to remove fingerprints. And don't leave from your home, or your office; leave from a neutral public site! And whatever you do, don't look up. Those spy satellites could recognize your face if you do, and then it would be all in vain.

Pity the poor uninformed conspiricy theorist who wears his tinfoil hat to prevent mind-control but forgets all of the paper trail that he leaves when he buys his tinfoil.

Ugly choices (5, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179295)

Technology seems to throw solutions at us that are sometimes in search of a problem and sometimes present some serious ethical and moral challenges. I can see how this technology for tracking people could save lives by tracking down and stopping terrorists and maybe even finding children that have been kidnapped, etc. On the other hand, the abuse potential seems almost limitless.

Happy Trails,

Erick

Re:Ugly choices (3, Interesting)

grungeman (590547) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179387)

Excactly. And we should consider that in order to convice people of how necessary these solutions are the government NEEDS terrorist threat. They need a problem that the solution can be applied on.

Re:Ugly choices (5, Insightful)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179398)

It's not going to help in tracking down kidnapped children, not unless the kidnapper lets them go to the mall to use their parents' VISA card or log on to check his/her mail.

And only stupid terrorists are likewise going to leave a trail of electronic crumbs to track. Yeah, you could argue that stupid terrorists are worth nabbing, but clearly whomever was responsible for 9/11 wasn't stupid, nor will the individual(s) responsible for the first nuclear detonation on American soil be stupid.

No, if anything, this system will actually increase the amount of criminal activity, whether terrorism or kidnapping, or crimes in between. It only serves to aggregrate power from the many onto the very few, which means more corruption and less representative government, which in turn means more disillusionment, apathy and frustration.

Re:Ugly choices (2, Insightful)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179429)

nor will the individual(s) responsible for the first nuclear detonation on American soil be stupid.

Indeed, and the detonations in the desert in the American west were conducted by the best and brightest of their time...

Oh, you meant the first one in a place the government DIDN'T select....

Re:Ugly choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179473)

> Indeed, and the detonations in the desert in the American west were conducted by
> the best and brightest of their time...
> Oh, you meant the first one in a place the government DIDN'T select....

He means both. Read it again.

Re:Ugly choices (4, Insightful)

fireduck (197000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179680)

And only stupid terrorists are likewise going to leave a trail of electronic crumbs to track. Yeah, you could argue that stupid terrorists are worth nabbing, but clearly whomever was responsible for 9/11 wasn't stupid, nor will the individual(s) responsible for the first nuclear detonation on American soil be stupid.

Actually, they were stupid, or at least sloppy. Nearly one-third of the terrorists had visas or travel documents with obvious forgeries [philly.com] . While sophisticated in some respects, they clearly weren't James Bond supergenius villian types. In addition, more than half of them were flagged [msn.com] by the airlines computer system as a threat, but were never checked because the system was designed for luggage, not people. So, obviously these people had something in their history/profile that indicated they could be trouble.

Perhaps a better system could have stopped or blunted the events of 9/11. who knows...

Tax payer's delight? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179521)

Is that the same government we have elected? Is that what we want them to do with your tax dollars? Is that what we want?
Am I the only one who thinks something went terribly wrong here?...

Re:Tax payer's delight? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179604)

We elected this government?

Don't you mean.. (-1)

the_twisted_pair (741815) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179548)

..Happy Trials.

Re:Ugly choices (3, Interesting)

Matrix272 (581458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179618)

Technology seems to throw solutions at us that are sometimes in search of a problem and sometimes present some serious ethical and moral challenges.

I'd like to make one small correction. Technology itself isn't throwing solutions that are ethically and morally questionable... It's the people that use technology in ethically and morally questionable ways that should be examined. In this case, it's Big Brother watching everything you do online to see if you're breaking any laws.

One time, I was in high school, and a friend of mine was scolded for using the word "rape" in a sentence that referred to something besides the obvious definition. In an attempt to support him, I did a search on "rape definition" and one of the sites that came up had ad banners for porn sites. The teacher saw that, and thought I was looking up porn at school, and it took me a long time of explaining to convince her that I wasn't. Imagine if I would have done a search on "kiddie porn" just to verify that it meant individuals under 18, not just individuals under 12 or 16, and the government saw that I looked at a site with ad banners depicting 17-year-olds doing the nasty. I had a hard enough time convincing a teacher in her early 30's that I didn't intend for that site to come up... let alone a judge and jury of my "peers".

As you said, the abuse potential for this technology is almost limitless, especially given the PATRIOT Act, and similar legislation. It is for reasons like this that I don't trust the government... whether it's with my activities on the internet (which are completely legit, except the occasional MP3 download), my tax dollars (how much do you think THIS will cost? $20 billion seem like enough?), or just generally my freedom. I'm not advocating any political stance... I'm just saying that if we're scared of the government abusing a power that we give them, why do we continue to give them such power?

Easier solution (1, Funny)

mgebbers (252737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179296)

The company says this information can be used, for example, to track patterns of criminal activity and identify spots of intensity.


Try here [cia.gov]

Re:whats so funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179578)

the u.s. is becoming the number one conflict zone with every day that passes.

bush administration and all their secret background supporters and who really are in charge are gonna doom this planet real soon now.

have a good laaf again, when u'll finaly realize this.

Law-abiding citizens (3, Insightful)

Samuel Duncan (737527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179321)

don't have anything to worry.
This will make our country more secure and safer from terrorism.
Furthermore all American pariotic parties are joined in this effort to fight terrorism - even Howard Dean is supporting personal identification schemes.
And remember we are at war - the war against terrorism. And in a war everybody has do to his share to ensure the victory of the forces of the free world. If that means that I have to give up some privacy, then I'll do my share gladly.
At WWII we had to make much larger sacrifices to save the free world and democracy.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179347)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAA. You are such a fucktard.

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!

Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

YHBT YHL HAND (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179375)

FOAD

Re:Law-abiding citizens (0, Troll)

bigjnsa500 (575392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179451)

Thanks Samuel for saying that. Too bad you were modded Troll. This /. crowd just doesn't realize what's at stake.

There have been no other strikes at America since 9/11 and Patriot Act had something to do with it. If you want your privacy /.'ers, move to another country. But I want safety more than I do privacy. And as the poster says, if you're a law abiding you have nothing to worry about.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (5, Insightful)

Lord of Ironhand (456015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179543)

Although I agree that he wasn't trolling, I do grow tired of the "good people have nothing to worry about" argument.

If a government knows everything about any citizen at any time, people in that government can abuse that information. Many people desire power over others, and the more power someone in a government position has, the more people will try to obtain such a position for the sake of power. Law abiding citizens do have something to worry about.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (3, Interesting)

bigjnsa500 (575392) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179591)

Now I am not agreeing either that I want Big Brother watching my every move. I just don't see how we can have both the government checking out people/groups whoever, AND the same privacy we had post 9-11.

In the end, I believe the terrorists did win. We are now forced to slowly move towards Big Brother. We have to rethink our open, free borders.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (2, Insightful)

Lord of Ironhand (456015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179678)

Now I am not agreeing either that I want Big Brother watching my every move. I just don't see how we can have both the government checking out people/groups whoever, AND the same privacy we had post 9-11.

You're right, we can't. But do you really think that the government's checking out of everything helps prevent terrorism? The War on Terror might very well be fueling terrorism instead of extinguishing it.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179673)

I welcome oversight because any data gathered on me further confirms both my innocence and value to the state, for whom I work.
As for the rest of you, :P

Re:Law-abiding citizens (0)

andalay (710978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179545)

But I want safety more than I do privacy.

1984? Ever read that? See the movie Equilibrium?
You don't want that. You will be miserable. You will never be free again.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (2, Insightful)

Lord of Ironhand (456015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179626)

Exactly. I think reading 1984 should be strongly encouraged by schools everywhere. (though it probably won't happen in the US because people might just notice the parallels between the War on Terror and the "War is Peace" philosophy).

It is essential for people to understand (not just "learn") why privacy is essential to safety.

Re:Law-abiding citizens (2, Insightful)

lafiel (667810) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179653)

Ok, time to feed the trolls.

Your logic that "There have been no other strikes at America since 9/11 and Patriot Act" is like saying "There has been no more World Wars since the 1946 and the invention of digital computing."

That is, how the hell does make sense? First, 9/11 is a date, it's certainly not preventing anything. And second, just because the Patriot Act has been put out doesn't mean it's the reason why any more attacks have been deterred. Mobilization of the army might be a good reason, increased security and a global alert for the "War of Terrorism" might be next. How about "You don't strike when they're expecting it"?

You're quite gullible. Please, start thinking for yourself instead of swallowing what 'truth' has been spoon-fed to you.

Sounds neat and all but... (4, Insightful)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179324)

I don't really see how advantageous this system would be. They say it scans documents a user looks at to get references to geographic locations, but how effective can this be? "Hey, Osama, quit checking weather bug, you know the US has that new MetaCarta system." Normally an ISP is more than happy to hand over your info to the government, so what is this good for?

Re:Sounds neat and all but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179334)

Osama, quit checking weather bug
If Osama wants to check the weather, he calls his old friend Rumsfeld.

Re:Sounds neat and all but... (3, Interesting)

edbarrett (150317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179482)

They say it scans documents a user looks at to get references to geographic locations

No it doesn't. It says it extracts references to people and place names and deduces from there. So (making this up as I go along) if Osama blogs "I went to the store today and bought a mess of bacon" This software could theoretically dig through a list of all the stores in the Middle East that sell bacon and look for Osama's CC#. Of course, the article doesn't say that, but that's what I'm understanding.

It is useful (1)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179499)

Such a tool is useful to an agency because you don't have to find a reason to get connection logs from an ISP and you can forget all the paperwork and the delay(maybe weeks) involved.

So suppose you have someone look at a "dangerous" document, then the tool can tell you whether the looker is in a place of interest (likely the USA or the middle east).

Try this (4, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179509)

Really simple example. I send an email to my buddy saying "I'll meet you at the Burger Hut at 11:00am". Presumably, their software would identify "Burger Hut", look up it's address and be able to plot that on a map. If I sent another email at 12:45 to a buddy of mine, you could look at the ip I sent it from. If it's my work ip, then there is a reasonable probability that I'm at work (yes I know, telecomuting and other technologies doesn't make this 100%, but for many it's a damn close guess), so at 12:45, one can guess that I'm at the office. I use my CC at the grocery store, the location of the grocery store is then tracked.

Put all these things together and you get a spatial picture of me. This is simply another way of looking at the data. From this you can more easily discern patterns. A more powerful example is if in another email I mentioned that I ate lunch with Osama, you could correlate the fact that I was at the burger hut around lunch time, and therefore there was a good possibility that Osama was there too.

Slashdot to employ Troll tracking systems (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179325)

I would be willing to give up my rights to catch members of the GNAA

Hrmm (2, Insightful)

acehole (174372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179328)

obviously the echelon project isnt enough or probably not suited for internet tracking.

no shit. (5, Interesting)

SinaSa (709393) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179332)

The way I see it (just an opinion here), this is happening just because people let it.

Right now to be a functional member of some societies (namely the U.S) you need to give up your personal information to various people/companies. If you don't, thats your choice, but you can't do certain things (renting cars, getting a loan, etc).

These companies weren't originally allowed to do this, but people let them as time passed. In places like Germany, privacy invasion is a much harder scheme to run with. People fight it tooth and nail. Both right and left wing parties in the government are avowedly "pro-privacy".

Now this is a sad picture to portray, that people in America have to give up their basic right to privacy to be a part of society.

I don't think its irreversible, and it may be a lot of work, but maybe its time for U.S citizens (not to mention any other privacy beleaguered citizens) to take their privacy back, chunk by chunk?

Re:no shit. (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179405)

that's because people the USA do NOT care. It's sad actually.

People routinely fork over their SSNs, DOB, phone number (especially to pizza outlets, delivery places, etc. I go and pick up my food so that I don't have to have a "call back" number they can store).

How about Papa Johns storing MULTIPLE credit card numbers on file under your phone number? It makes it easy to get your pizza without doing any work but do you trust Papa Johns with that info?

Scary.

Re:no shit. (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179492)

wtf?

usually the point of a pizza delivery is that someone comes up to you and hands you a pizza soon after placing your order.

at that point, you can pay with cash just as easily as you can at the restaurant, but without the risk of being seen on CCTV cameras or mugged en route.

Re:no shit. (1)

LittleCryer (749000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179568)

I live in the USA and you are right...I don't care. Perhaps I'm simply used to it, but I don't see any personal danger in doing this. I know that no one would have any reason to harm me specifically in this way, unless it's a random and rare case of identity theft, so I see no reason to really worry. Although the pizza example you gave does seem a bit over the edge.

Re:no shit. (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179571)

What's Papa Johns gonna do?

Like anyone who isn't an idiot, I watch my statements closely, first sign of a false charge, I'd report it to the card issuer and police, and if it was some clerk at Papa Johns, they'd be in cuffs inside of a day.. Lifting customers credit cards is probably the stupidest crime there is, and the easiest to track.

As for caring if Papa Johns "tracks" me, I dont. I really dont care who knows that I like bacon, pineapple and tomato on my pizzas.

As for my address and phone number, there's this crazy database called a phone book that lists all of that information.

Re:no shit. (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179738)

What's the difference if they don't start charging your credit card? What's the difference if YOU don't care that they sell your eating preferences.

I CARE.

Perhaps you are one of those people that LIKES getting spam in their mailbox or junk mail from the USPS. Perhaps you even enjoy idle conversation with the telemarketers.

Remember, the DNC lists only work when you haven't had an active relationship with a company. If you let them have your phone number they and their parent companies and their child companies can then call you at their will.

With the way the conglomorates are forming do you really want to do that?

I didn't think so.

Re:no shit. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179764)

People routinely fork over their SSNs, DOB, phone number (especially to pizza outlets, delivery places, etc. I go and pick up my food so that I don't have to have a "call back" number they can store).


Yes, indeed you can get it yourself. The reason a pizzaplace wants your number is because for the safety of the driver and to make it possible to do a callback. APDD [pizzadeliverydrivers.org] has several stories where this would have saved a persons life. The company will have no problem whatsoever when you pick it up.
br>
About giving your CC number to somebody. This goes for any business and do you trust the CC company to have not only your details; also the possabilaty to see WHAT you buy at different stores?

So for the callbacknumber. There is a very good reason for it.

Re:no shit. (2, Interesting)

XorNand (517466) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179791)

Interesting you bring up pizza joints. Here's your tinfoil hat fact for today: There is a large datawarehousing company in the US that specializes in providing information to gov't agencies for forensic purposes. Since so many people have unlisted phone numbers nowadays, they purchase customer lists from pizza places (because almost everyone has ordered a pizza and the stores always ask for your phone number).

Re:no shit. (5, Insightful)

rm007 (616365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179414)

In places like Germany, privacy invasion is a much harder scheme to run with. People fight it tooth and nail.

One of the differences between Europe (especially Germany) is that their views on such things as privacy have been formed in the context of direct recent (in terms of living memory of the politically active population of the past 50 years) experience of totalitarian government and/or occupation. Perhaps some Americans are more willing to trade off security for liberty because they can't conceive of what the loss of liberty means. If you let it go a bit at a time, you do not notice it. If it gets take away all at once, you do.

Re:no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179573)

"in order to understand what a broken toe is, someone has to stamp on your foot" - AC

Re:no shit. (4, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179619)

One of the differences between Europe (especially Germany) is that their views on such things as privacy have been formed in the context of direct recent (in terms of living memory of the politically active population of the past 50 years) experience of totalitarian government and/or occupation.

This is true, but with a small caveat. If you read this book [databasenation.com] (highly recommended), you'll note that US researchers were the first to blow the whistle, in the '60s if I remember well, about the risks of database tracking individuals and collecting way too much info about citizens.

The US governement did nothing about this, but Western European (Eastern Europe is something else) governments did, and created several tough laws designed to protect privacy. Whether this was due to the history of Europe, and, as you mention, to the memories of the Nazi regime is open for debate.

This being said, these European privacy laws are being undermined by the US government as we speak. The first step was, of course, to require European airlines to communicate information about their passengers to US authorities.

Re:no shit. (1)

rm007 (616365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179731)

US researchers were the first to blow the whistle

You are, of course, correct, and it must also be said that there is and remains a strong privacy constituency with memebers from across the political spectrum in the United States. That being said, as you allude to, they are not often listened to. I can't help but speculate that part of the problem is that not only does it never really become a big public issue in the US but also that political participation in the US keeps on decline. A more politically active population (i.e. taking the trouble to vote) might help, so too would a mass media that more readily courted controversy. Sure if you look you can always get coverage on issues such as this on PBS or NPR, but their audience is a small minority of Americans.

Privacy in the USA? NO WAY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179460)

America is too concerned with the mainstream collective. Privacy and personal rights are not top issues. 'If given for the right reasons' giving out personal information can be okay, especially if it is to counter terrorism.

Lets just take a look at the debates:
*Abortion...Nevermind what the pregnant lady thinks, its wrong!
*Marijuana...You are not allowed to do what you want in your own home, stop asking.

jk, lol, GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

~Snit

Re:no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179534)

America seems to be a paranoid war-mongering bunch of idiots at the moment. Maybe more of you should go vote this time around and select a more appropriate figurehead to represent your people.
I think you'll be amazed what a charismatic intelligent leader could do not only for your society, but also for your society's image outside the US.
Bush has probably sent more Americans to their deaths than all terrorism against Americans EVER has. And it's easy to find him and get rid of him, so do it. :) (ie: vote)

Re:no shit. (1)

Sumocide (114549) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179547)

In Germany you're not even allowed to leave your home without your national ID card.

Trade freedom of speech for German privacy? (5, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179551)

Since Germans don't have unlimited freedom of political expression, I wonder how many Americans would give up theirs and accept the yoke of censorship for privacy?

As much as I want privacy, I have a hard time feeling like I'm a victim of lack of privacy. I'm more annoyed on a practical every day basis with the nosy neighbors than I am with US Bank's selling my credit card purchase information or Tivo's aggregation of my viewing habits.

I'm actually much more concerned about the government's ability and willingness to repress political speech than I am whether some database knows I bought a couple of cans of jock itch spray with my credit card.

Re:no shit. Stupid American Public (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179589)

American public is stupid like hell.
They fall for a nipple flashing act, but will just be silent on major social changes which can potentially screw them big time.

More eye-candy to suck up govt bucks (5, Insightful)

shoppa (464619) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179337)

Others get worried by all these government contractors who are making big bucks by selling privacy-invading tools to Uncle Sam.

But I don't. Why? Because 95% of all government software projects end up either being outright failures or not useful. (You'd be surprised how many contractors know that they're meeting the requirement specification but know that the result won't be useful to anyone.)

Now, I do not like the fact that my government is wasting money on software that doesn't help make me any safer. We have to do something about that, this is the real lossage.

Re:More eye-candy to suck up govt bucks (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179448)

Others get worried by all these government contractors who are making big bucks by selling privacy-invading tools to Uncle Sam.

But I don't. Why? Because 95% of all government software projects end up either being outright failures or not useful.


This means that 5% is not a failure and it will be 'Usefull' for the governement. If the tool is there to invade the privacy, it will only take time before it will be abused. At this moment it will be used to find the guilty. At some point it will be used to find the inocent and when you are not on that list, you will be guilty.

This already happens when they did a DNS test of a complete village (UK? France? Belgium? Sorry I forgot where).

I personaly do not mind so much the money that is wasted. If done correctly, it flows back into the economy. I do mind the fact that anything I say or do can be used against me, even when I am not arrested or under investigation. At this moment it still is that you are OK when you do nothing wrong. Soon the time will come you will have to prove that you did nothing wrong. The way the governement is looking at it: you are guilty unless proven inocent. What other reason is there to track what everybody is doing?

Re:More eye-candy to suck up govt bucks (1)

Matrix272 (581458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179701)

I personaly do not mind so much the money that is wasted. If done correctly, it flows back into the economy.

It may flow back into the economy later, but that doesn't help ME when they take 30% of my paycheck, that I work very hard for. In fact, there's a VERY good chance I'll never see a penny of that money again, since it "flowed back" into someone else's pocket.

Re:More eye-candy to suck up govt bucks (2, Insightful)

jefeweiss (628594) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179469)


A lot of these new programs aren't actually operated by the government. That's because the government isn't allowed to do some of these things by law. They hire private companies because private companies can do whatever the hell they want. This isn't the only company working on projects that are similar to this. Slashdot's headlines since TIA went down in flames are full of them.

The things is, this is nothing new. I had seen proposals for commercial versions of this for a long time. Cell phones that advertise for businesses that you happen to be near, in car navigation systems that advertise for restaurants you are driving by. I would be very surprised if credit card companies haven't been selling all kinds of information to marketing agencies, as well as other financial companies. I tend to agree with people that say the US sold it's right to privacy a long time ago for easy credit. The only right we may be able to claim is transparency to see what happens to our data, and I don't see anyone pushing for that. David Brin wrote an interesting book called The Transparent Society where he explored transparency as an alternative to privacy. I'm really getting tired of people bitching about the government invading our privacy when the government is 30 years behind the private sector. It's not like anyone is using this information with our best interests at heart, unless you think getting more advertising is neat.

even if it is successful (1)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179476)

Having worked as a contractor for a government agency, I can tell you that the people behind the wheel more than likely won't be the sharpest knives in the drawer. One woman I worked with, her whole job for the entire day was to burn 6 cds. Other people just outright slept most of the day. Sure they may have some great new system, but the bottleneck will be that person that has to burn a backup cd of the data before its passed along to intelligence...at 6 cds a day.

Re:More eye-candy to suck up govt bucks (1)

Dracolytch (714699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179527)

I agree. I've been a developer for government/military funded software for a while. Over the years, I've begun to get a feel for what is a pet project or idea that won't really be used, and what is software that actually has a purpose. From how the article reads, I feel this system will either go mostly unused or the data from it will be unhelpful/misleading.

~D

We know who you are... (3, Funny)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179353)

And we know you have been posting on Slashdot way too much.

Go back to work, you slacker. If you post too much on Slashdot, the terrorists will win!
--
This post has been brought to you by CitizenWatch(tm) a division of DARPA / Homeland Security.
"We watch because we care" (tm & sm).

Reminds me of a Spam FIlter... (1)

QuiK_ChaoS (190208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179362)

"We guarantee less than 1% false positives!"

Re:Reminds me of a Spam FIlter... (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179572)

"Make it idiot proof, and someone will make a better idiot."

"No program is foolproof, because fools are so ingenious."

Tinfoil hat time (5, Insightful)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179365)

Our society as a whole is allowing this infringment upon us. There is nobody to blame but ourselves. This attack on our freedom is pushed by the people that scream "what about the children" in attempts to save us from ourselves. If there was a big enough uproar about this happening it could be stopped, but unfortunately anybody that stands up to this is shouted down with threats of wanting to aid terrorists and kill babies and such. The old adage comes to mind, the way for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

I am curious to see if there will ever be a call to arms from the freedom loving americans that fund the government that creates these programs.

Re:Tinfoil hat time (1)

GuyinVA (707456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179431)

The problem is most Internet users do not know about these things. I think it is our responsibility to spread the word that our goverment is doing this. We need to spread the word come election day. I have a feeling that these types of things will surface with in 2 major elections, and internet security/freedom may become a polical issue..

Re:Tinfoil hat time (0)

Turd Rippleton (558149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179437)


I agree. Believe it or not, the laws of the land are to protect ourselves from the government, and unfortunately I find ourselves drifting closer to communism. Our liberty is slowly fading away through pretenses of terrorism and proliferation of WMD.

We as a people need to stand up and say enough is enough.

~Turd

If such a system were implemented (4, Insightful)

kemapa (733992) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179368)

Criminals would just find a way around the whole system, while honest people would be the ones tracked. Just like guns... if you create a law eliminating guns the criminals will still get them illegally, while regular citizens won't.

Re:If such a system were implemented (2, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179643)

The first thing I thought of when I saw this is "wow - the Bad Guys could have a field day with this". Imagine - you find yourself on the wrong end of a PI or something, you have skills, you turn the tables and hunt this guy instead. Somebody gaining a level of control with this type of system would pose an unprecendted threat (on the offchance the stupid thing acutally worked).

Better yet, Kevin Mitnick's "two computer" scheme came to mind where he was intentionally leading his pursuers at the FBI around by the nose so they THOUGHT they were chasing him, but really, he was just sending them on snipe hunts all over the country. After all, if you KNOW they're tracking you, disinformation becomes the ultimate weapon.

Re:If such a system were implemented (3, Funny)

ratamacue (593855) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179802)

That is exactly why England's murder and violent crime rates have skyrocketed since the 1997 gun ban: (1) Criminals will always be able to obtain weapons, no matter what the law says, and (2) for the criminal, the ideal victim is the one who is unarmed or has no means of self-defense.

It follows that society is safer in general when every individual has the potential to be armed. Criminals don't even need to see the gun -- the fact that a victim MAY be armed is enough to make them think twice. "Tougher" laws and penalites for crime won't change a thing, because the law can't possibly address the need for immediate self-defense.

A similar situation has occurred in Washington, D.C. History has proven, time and time again, that gun "control" (restrictions on the individual's right to self-defense) actually increases, not decreases, the overall crime rate. Of course, if you ask me, that is exactly what government wants. (The higher the crime rate, the more "justification" for expanding the powers of government.)

Refer to this article [thepriceofliberty.org] for a good intro to this issue.

Use of technology (4, Insightful)

canfirman (697952) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179381)

There are a few quotes from the article that are of interest:

Search results appear as points on a map instead of as a list of documents. The company says this information can be used, for example, to track patterns of criminal activity and identify spots of intensity.

Just wait. Businesses will be requiring this data for "demographics". The RIAA can search for those who talk about "downloading music". Police can use it to track those who distribute kiddie porn. (Uh oh! I just used "kiddie porn" with my name! They'll be after me next!)

The point is that anyone can say the data will be used for "tracking criminals", but we all know that will not be the case. Heck, the "Patriot Act" was supposed to combat terrorism, but we all know of the abuses of it. IMHO, this software will do more harm than good (unless you're the one collecting the data).

PS: Since September 11, US security agencies have increasingly turned to technology to help them process website postings, internet chat and e-mail traffic....and still no sign of Osama Bin Laden.

Re:Use of technology (2, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179518)

this software will do more harm than good

I thinks this misses the point. The software is just a visualisation tool. Nobody should be up in arms about this software, because it is not a threat to your civil liberties. The real threat is when government agencies are allowed to accumulate and use the necessary information about private citizens in the first place. Also, for innocent people, the real threat is not that they can be located, it is that they can be picked out of data warehouses using search terms which incorrectly label them as "subversive" or "potential terrorist".

Re:Use of technology (2, Interesting)

supersam (466783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179519)

PS: Since September 11, US security agencies have increasingly turned to technology to help them process website postings, internet chat and e-mail traffic....and still no sign of Osama Bin Laden.

Exactly! ... and they won't catch him till Osama brings his audio and video recorders (the ones that he uses to make all those tapes) online! ;-)

I dunno who's the more naive of the lot...
Government - for thinking that it can catch the Osamas of this world by developing such softwares...
or the Public - for thinking that the law-abiding citizens don't have anything to worry about these anti-privacy initiatives...

Re:Use of technology (0)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179805)

"Just wait. Businesses will be requiring this data for "demographics". The RIAA can search for those who talk about "downloading music". Police can use it to track those who distribute kiddie porn." Now...which one of those is completely out of place? If they use it to catch child exploiters, I'm all for it.

Useful? But for whom? (4, Interesting)

Epyn (589398) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179382)

I'd like to think I'm not paranoid and such. But I've recently lost significant faith in the prosecution of real criminals in the states, there've been a few scapegoats of late. I just don't see WHY they would use this without abusing it. 'They', being the scary government and such, have been very self-serving lately. /me points to the spam bill, which is almost helpful for everyday email users.

Give the information to Google to improve searches (-1, Offtopic)

totierne (56891) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179386)

Give the information to Google to improve searches before microsoft uses the contents of our microsoft windows PC (email and web browser) to beat google in the search game, see Stuff I've Seen .

Here is the tracking program (3, Funny)

adagioforstrings (192285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179388)

I got a copy of their program in my mailbox!!

Hello Everyone, And thank you for signing up for my Beta Email
Tracking Application or (BETA) for short. My name is MetaCarta.
Here at DARPA we have just compiled an e-mail tracing program
that tracks everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. It
does this through an unique IP (Internet Protocol) address log
book database.

We are experimenting with this and need your help. Forward this
to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on
the list you will receive $1000 and a copy of MetaCarta Geographic
Text Search at my expense.

Enjoy.

Note: Duplicate entries will not be counted. You will be notified
by email with further instructions once this email has reached
1000 people. MetaCarta Geographic Text Search will not be shipped
until it has been released to the general public.

Your friend,
MetaCarta & DARPA

Enemy of the State (1)

glyph42 (315631) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179399)

I just watched Enemy of the State last night. I guess I should stop developing automagic 3D image reconstruction algorithms :(

Hacking of this system being made into a film... (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179569)

...called Get MetaCarta.

International Organizations eh? (5, Interesting)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179407)

I'm not worried about being tracked with such a system here at home for two reasons. I usually use cash and I have PGP encryption for my emails. But then again, I live in South Dakota and everyone always knows where everyone else is anyway so the point is moot.

What worries me is what a foreign nation might do with this information. Say I own a piece of software that is legal at home, but illegal in the nation where I spend my spring break, am I going to get Skylarov'ed for something I do in a different nation with different rules?

Re:International Organizations eh? (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179807)

Skylarov was arrested for something he did while in Russia that was illegal in the US.

In your example, you'd be doing something illegal in [whatever country] while you're in that country. So, yes, I'd say it's possible you'd be arrested, but it's not the same situation as Skylarov.

--RJ

This is going to catch criminals? (3, Interesting)

DangerSteel (749051) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179425)

Not trying to be too cynical here, but let's be realistic... I can't count the number of criminals I read about who police caught and had prior warrants for thier arrest, but they have never checked thier last known address. Getting another database of that information will somehow help?

Nigerian friend (2, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179441)

So, now we would finally know where our Nigerian Spammer friend [ntlworld.com] actually is.
I am going to forward MetaCarta guys a copy of my 419 Nigerian email right away. Brilliant!

Eeh. If you can't beat 'em... join 'em (0)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179454)

We're watching you.

Dear DARPA: +5, Hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179456)

I handle all my gun running for BCCI [whitehouse.org] over Freenet [sf.net]

Respectfully,
Kilgore Trout

Our Privacy is Doomed anyway (5, Interesting)

NixLuver (693391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179471)

As someone pointed out in a post yesterday, privacy of information is becoming endangered, and there is nothing we can do to stop that from happening short of becoming Luddites - all of us - and adopting 'less than appropriate technology'.

As an example - waaaay back in '85, when I was hacking on a 8086 Panicsonic Business Partier, I was playing with biometrics with a keyboard snatching TSR (for the company I was working for at the time) that would identify individuals by their idiosyncratic keystroke patterns. The identification was very successful, but on that limited hardware the database involved was prohibitive. There are probably thousands of idiosyncratic behaviors that could be monitored by interactive websites (or 'routers' that could examine traffic) to identify and track users; it's only a matter of CPU power, which Moore's law will take care of - unless it hits Moore's Wall soon.

Re:Our Privacy is Doomed anyway (0)

Magada (741361) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179617)

You must know that one of the entropy sources for the linux system entropy pool is keystroke time logging. Any thoughts on that?

1984 (0)

Alephcat (745478) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179475)

Yet another reason not to visit the united states, don't give them any information and hopefully they will not have enough to be able to find you.

tinfoil hats all round!

Hmmm... (1)

Dracolytch (714699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179498)

You know, after reading the article, I'm skeptical that this software is of any real use. I mean, it sounds like an interesting idea or theory, but actually carrying it out to practice with any sort of reliability or usefulness is questionable.

Of course, I find it interesting that people are relying more and more on computers to do this kind of work. I mean, computers are very gullible. What's to say that people won't use code, euphamisms, or lie to send programs off on the wrong track? From how this article reads, it really wouldn't be hard.

So don't mind me... I'll just sit here trying to take over the world whilst sitting under Niagra Falls.

~D

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179781)

yup, computers are indeed gullible.

especially programs that use some sort of so called "AI"
to distinguish patterns.

send software looking for a criminal, and it *WILL* find
a criminal even if one isn't there.

the gov does not have to be out to "get you" directly,
merely doing their jobs to meet quotas, look like they
justify their budget, etc. and more and more innocents
will be labeled guilty.

the usa is fucked and unfortunately has the power to drag
the rest of the world down with it. the last people on
the planet smiling will be terrorists. because they *KNOW*
they have already won, *completely*.

it hurts (1)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179502)

Y'know when you sign up for something (crap) online and they ask you to check your favorite sports, hobbies, work industry, gender etc.. just so they can provide you with "a better quality of service, that will help us send you only information on products that will meet your wants/needs...." Why the f*ck do I keep getting the lastest catalogue of penis enlargers?

Re:it hurts (2, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179736)

Why the f*ck do I keep getting the lastest catalogue of penis enlargers?


Maybe because you wrote your penis dimensions in their form?

That's an awfully expensive tracking system (1)

Srividya (746733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179536)

We just use cookies.

How it Works - and what it means (2, Informative)

subjectstorm (708637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179577)

well, i just RTFA.

this software really only does one thing - it sucks the names of geographical locations out of text documents like web pages and emails and translates them into points on a map. That in itself is harmless.

the real invasion of privacy isn't this program - it's that the feds are monitoring communications of many types, all over the globe, 24-7-365. Until now, they've had FAR more information than they could ever hope to process. They had to sort through stuff manually, and a single day's captured communications could take years to sort through.

if you need a reason to jam that tinfoil hat on a little tighter, just start asking yourself how much privacy you've actually got right now. these fine folks can already hear anything you say on a cell phone WITHOUT a wiretap order that they would have to justify. they can already nab everything that you say on the net. they can snap a shot of you from freaking orbit if they know where to look lol

this program isn't a privacy issue. it's just making the gov a lot more efficient at what they were already doing - and THAT is the privacy issue.

interestingly enough, to fool this system requires only that (when online) you:

(A) refrain from mentioning geographic locations at all
(b) mention the WRONG ones - like saying "mt vesuvius" when you actually mean "toledo"

oh . . my . . . . god. i hope the terrorists didn't just read my post. DAMN MY HACKERESQUE POWERS OF GENIUS!

Re:How it Works - and what it means (1)

lutefish (746659) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179675)

Mentioning the wrong place name works fine if they're not using a graphical traceroute while they're compiling the information.

No longer land of the free (3, Informative)

hey (83763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179583)

We're all under house arrest now.

re (1)

include clue.h (703235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179588)

Doh. Now all those government types are going to suss me as a computer-nerd. /must protect tin-foil hat from big-brother investigations.

Apathy (4, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179603)

The problem is that you have to work very hard at freedom and democracy et al. The natural ground state for human society is totalitarian dictatorship, and free and open societies are really exceptional cases.

People would much rather be safe than free, by and large. Most people will gladly give up all their important freedoms if it means they have safety (or just the illusion of it). People generally prefer to follow the path of least resistance too - another factor that works against freedom since you must work at staying free.

Expect more of these schemes to come into action with the majority of the public either not caring (path of least resistance) or just accepting (safety over freedom) the changes. If we want to make sure these schemes don't keep adding up, bit by bit, be prepared for an uphill struggle.

Amendment IV The Bill of Rights (2, Informative)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179607)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

nuff said!

Re:Amendment IV The Bill of Rights (2, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179788)

> The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated [ ... ] (emphasis poster's)

So close, and yet so far, from the truth.

RTFWW. Read the fucking Weasel Word.

It says "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated [ ... ]" (Emphasis mine)

Nowhere does it say the people have any say in defining what's reasonable. The Legislature does the defining. The Executive does the searching. Where it's not clear whether a search was reasonable and a warrant was not issued, the Judicial branch determines if the Executive crossed the line.

If I made an ad that says the Yugo is the fastest car, you'd be able to sue me for false advertising. If I made an ad that says the Yugo is the fastest car in its class.

The fact that the Yugo is a Class I.3c.55.X vehicle - "Imported 4-cylinder sub-sub-sub-compacts, maximum safe speed 55 miles per hour, resale value of less than scrap value" - is a little detail I choose to leave out. Determining how many classes there are, and what class the Yugo is in, is an exercise for the student.

Likewise with "unreasonable".

Bleh (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179620)

You can't stop people from gathering information. If I want to get out a spiral notebook and a pencil and start writing down every liscense plate number I see and descriptions of the drivers, I can.

What's needed is systems in place to ensure that the information is not abused, and punishments for abuse.

Like the Do Not Call list. I was bombarded with telemarketers before it went into affect (you need only buy a home to get every mortgage agent in the universe to start calling). Now they've completely stopped. Do I care that people can go find out how much I owe on my mortgage? Not really.

Outsourcing (2, Funny)

somethinghollow (530478) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179647)

Why didn't they just give DoubleClick the bid? They already seem to have the tracking thing down.

Convenience in Law Enforcement (2, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179677)


The government and international security agencies have a desire to find, track and sometimes arrest people. Our system can be used to find them across the globe.

There will be some people who will feel more re-assured that such an effort is underway, that the "terrorist" threat will be diminished by developing these kinds of technologies.

These are the same people who will give you a confused look when you mention that the government of the Peoples Republic of China is very interested in exactly the same technology for exactly the same stated purpose.

This will create a new disinformation industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8179712)

An industry to put documents in various locations
ostensively from a certain person but really not.
All with the purpose of messing up their software.

Bush Economy II (2, Insightful)

Quantum-Sci (732727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8179787)

a new system for tracking individuals based on their electronic presence.

My god. Not only do they tip up the U.S. Treasury and shake it empty, but they also want to track everyone as we try find a job? Double-plus ungood.

Any remaining Party members should have a look at this [reuters.com] . We have been raped and robbed, repeatedly, and we should start publicizing it, and see to ars publicum, as they have seen to their radical self-interest, for so long.

{foil hat}
This in mind, I offer a deeply cynical view of this Senate ricin episode:
- In 2001 several middle-left congressmen and newspeople were targeted with anthrax, which was truly deadly because it was extremely fine and it had a special exotic treatment on each particle to cause it to fly airborne. It could even pass through the pores in an envelope.
- Now "gray granules [reuters.com] " of ricin are found in envelopes to conservatives.
- Only an idiot would think granules would be a real threat. The kind of idiot who would leave fingerprints on the envelope and DNA in the glue, which is not the case here.
- U.S. Gen Tommy Franks recently said that the Constitution "may have to be suspended if there's another major terrorist attack".
- Some are concerned that the 2008 elections may be suspended on grounds of national security; but hopefully it won't be the 2004 elections instead? If Kerry or Edwards is too strong?
- With the blame made this time on 'linux hippies?
{/foil hat}

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