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CIA Researching Automated IRC Spying

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the will-u-be-my-friend-lol-j/k dept.

Privacy 413

Iphtashu Fitz writes "CNet News is reporting that the CIA has been quietly investing in research programs to automatically monitor Internet chat rooms. In a two year agreement with the National Science Foundation, CIA officials were involved with the selection of recipients for research grants to develop automated chat room monitors. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received $157,673 from the CIA and NSF for their proposal of 'a system to be deployed in the background of any chat room as a silent listener for eavesdropping ... The proposed system could aid the intelligence community to discover hidden communities and communication patterns in chat rooms without human intervention.' How soon until all IM conversations are monitored by Big Brother? The abstract of the proposal is available on the NFS website."

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413 comments

It wont really be any good... (5, Insightful)

Folmer (827037) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913093)

Even if its able to spy on private chat rooms on major networks, they wont be able to spy on thoose who dont want to be spied on... Its relatively easy to set up your own IRC server, and control exactly who has axcess to it so the feds are left outside alone...

Re:It wont really be any good... (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913204)

IRC is just a telnet hack, so everything's plaintext. They can easily sniff packets at the ISP level.

I'd think anyone planning crimes on IRC would be a complete moron, but then, many criminals tend to be complete morons.

Re:It wont really be any good... (2, Interesting)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913277)

I'd think anyone planning crimes on IRC would be a complete moron
People have planned crimes on IRC, and got caught for it. One of the recent instances was someone tied to Foonet talking organizing DDoS attacks -- Foonet got busted by the FBI. These were the fellows that did attacks-for-hire [addict3d.org] (including against antispam services) if you remember.

Re:It wont really be any good... (1, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913345)

Yeah, I know, lots of criminals are idiots.

You hear about guys who hold up banks, and write the ransom note on the back of their own cheque or deposit slip.

I read of a bank robber who demanded money, and the teller said "I'll need to see some ID", and he handed over the drivers license.

I read about a down-on-his-luck guy selling pot, couldn't find a buyer no matter what he did. Finally, he makes it to the beach, and the whole place is full of long-haired hippy/biker looking dudes! He was in heaven, he ran down to the first guy and showed him his stash, and told him he could get as much as they need. Turns out it was a police employee picnic - and everyone there was an undercover NARC.

Hell, I saw a guy outside a Phish concert with a sign saying "Weed, $40 for a half quarter".

It's not like the average criminal mind is all that sophisticated.

Re:It wont really be any good... (2, Informative)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913347)

Using SSL or SSH to encrypt the communications is trivial.

Re:It wont really be any good... (1)

The FooMiester (466716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913350)

Many criminals who get caught . . .

Faith, Family, and Values Will Prevail: +1, True (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913217)


Bob Jones III, the current president of Bob Jones University (famous for its only recently ended ban on interracial dating), wrote a short congratulatory letter to recently re-elected President Bush in which he extolls the president to stay the Christian course.

Below is the text of that letter:

November 3, 2004

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America--though she doesn't deserve it--a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years--a brief time only--to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour" (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you--that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III
President

Re:Faith, Family, and Values Will Prevail: +1, Tru (0, Offtopic)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913370)

You're a completely off-topic troll, but just in case anyone's interested, there's a K5 story about that. [kuro5hin.org]

You don't control the trunks (3, Interesting)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913253)

Yeah, but you don't have physical control over the pipes between yor server and all your clients. How do you think your bits get sent back and forth? I just have to put an intercept between you and your clients to grab all the data I want.

This would be some sort of program that can sit on an ISP's trunks, and grab all traffic that looked like IRC traffic and dump it in a log. Since it is the CIA, (And they are in theory, the Intelligence 'Offense') it might be a small embedded hardware solution that has a built in microdrive. It would be very handy to have a CIA controled operative slip in to a NOC in a hostile country, snap it onto a trunk in an unobtrusice location and pick it up a month later.

American Tinfoil hat people, relax. The FBI is the group spying on you, not the CIA.

Re:It wont really be any good... (4, Insightful)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913329)

I totally support this opinion.
Open source IRC daemon running on open source OS.
An invite only channel, with key, now where does CIA plan to step in?
And it's obvious no valuable information will be exchanged via popular IMs. I once though it would, as there is so much traffic, that no one is able to comprehend it, bu as soon as I wanted to relay sth valuable, let's say a password or whatever, delicious cookie recipe, I used secure channels.
Now why would they want to spy on 14 year olds, I don't know.
How can they differntate what's real, I remeber that somwhere out there there is this Echelon system working, recording all my phone call and checking for 'special' words. I try to use 'nuke', 'osama', 'chemical weapons' in few languages, but the black suits still refuse to come.

In general I'm not so paranoid, I don't think that we're facing Orwellian times. The main reason for that, there are not enough human resources to have it working. Let's say we wanted every person in the world to be spied on by another person, the way it is done now, is in shifts, at least two people involved, usually much more. Now technology helps with this problem, let's say we can record every minute of a man's life, there still has to be someone to watch all that footage, if we go on, we could probably end up with only half of the population in the BigBrother business, I think with current economy it is not possible.
I could elaborate on this subject a bit more, but I hope you get my point.

Re:It wont really be any good... (1)

prell (584580) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913342)

Exactly. In the end it will be trivial to weed these guys out, or prevent them altogether. And the IRC network is brutal: I'm almost certain that the entire country of Norway has been banned from IRC altogether.

Re:It wont really be any good... (1)

hsidhu (184286) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913351)

As long as we can trust the servers the silc project looks very good.

You can set channel keys to encrypt the channel or per user query key to encrypt private communications.

Looks very promising but not may people are using it yet.

Sample (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913095)

> Join: NotWithCIA [notspying@user128a85b.cia.gov]
<l33th4x0r> and i h4ck3d into the NSA and compiled gentoo on it
<l33th4x0r> it was awesome
<l33th4x0r> like a beowulf cluster of beowulf clusters
<myPPburns> how long did that take?
<l33th4x0r> like 2 days
<myPPburns> no, I mean compiling Gentoo
<l33th4x0r> yah, like 2 days
<myPPburns> who is that new guy? NotWthCIA?
<l33th4x0r> dunno, never seen him before
<myPPburns> cool nick tho
<myPPburns> I'm gonna go hack WoW l8r. make myself king orc!!!
<l33th4x0r> yah, im gonna go post a letter from osama on drudge
<l33th4x0r> watch the media fr33k out
> Quit: NotWthCIA (OSAMA DETECTED! ALERT! ALERT!)

That's easy to beat... (4, Funny)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913103)

Just avoid the rooms with the *CIA_Chanserv* bot running

Re:That's easy to beat... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913141)


Actually, isn't the CIA supposed to investigate us evil foreigners? What would they do with information they gather on domestic folks, pass it to the FBI?

Re:That's easy to beat... (2, Insightful)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913297)

Hey, can't have a police state without keeping your eyes on your own. You never know when the citizens turn unpatriotic.

Re:That's easy to beat... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913361)

This has actually been the historical precedent. The CIA was originally intended to be tuned to outside intelligence with specific laws and guidelines established to enforce this, while the FBI was intended for domestic investigations. However, recent law (including PATRIOT and PATRIOT II) has eroded those protections that US citizens enjoyed.

That said, given that the Internet is truly global (and plans to expand beyond global), in defense of this work (not that I support it) nobody can effectively monitor the Internet without monitoring domestic IPs.

Solution (5, Funny)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913107)

/mode +b #haxxor *!*@*.cia.gov

Re:Solution (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913237)

/me recounces his geekyness. What I meant was /mode #haxxor +b *!*@*.cia.gov

Re:Solution (1)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913288)

/me renounces his englishness. I meant to write renounce, not recounce.

Isn't IM monitored already (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913109)

ICQ is owned by Odigo, an Israeli company.

Re:Isn't IM monitored already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913185)

Didn't AOL buy it? AOL is based in Virginia... like the CIA! Coincidence? I think not.

Re:Isn't IM monitored already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913359)

no coincidence, the big pipes were there for the CIA, AOL squatted there for their business plan.

Re:Isn't IM monitored already (1)

Magickcat (768797) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913363)

Odigo - the same company that was forewarned of 9/11 - two hours before it happened. Info here. [haaretzdaily.com]

Show me the money! (0)

grub (11606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913112)


received $157,673 from the CIA and NSF for their proposal of 'a system to be deployed in the background of any chat room as a silent listener for eavesdropping

Sheesh... years ago I did a crap 1 liner in BitchX that took the conversations in one channel and msg'd them to another. Can I have some money, too?

Re:Show me the money! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913134)

RTFA before writing such a BS

Re:Show me the money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913295)


Read the manual, lad. It's trivial.
HAND.

Frist p0st! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913113)

Aw, yeah!

I am one step ahead (2, Funny)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913115)

My irc script supports ROT13 encryption.

I'm one step ahead of you! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913275)

Mine supports ROT26. In fact, I'm using it now.

Isn't that what Echelon does? (1)

kbahey (102895) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913117)

Isn't that what Echelon does already?

I mean, filter certain keywords, and associations from ALL communications (IRC included?)

Bing!Bing!Bing! (2, Informative)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913343)

Correct, at least as far as public rumors about secret government spying software goes. However, the Carnivore project is FBI. The FBI doesn't work for the CIA, so why would you expect them to actually work together?

Also, technically, the FBI are just federal cops, as opposed to state cops or local cops. The CIA is an intelligence agency (spies), and so they might not want the exact same sort of application. You can't simply get a court order to slap Carnivore on an ISP's lines when the ISP in question is say, in North Korea.

Of course, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913367)

They have to pretend to be "researching" things they've had in operation for decades to keep us regular folks from getting too suspicious.

They'll probably announce in a couple of months that IRC monitoring was not feasible due to the super-complicated technical problems inherent in logging plain text.

pwned by cia in irc... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913126)

I'll just use my tinfoil gloves to IRC then (and reinforce the hat some too)...

Telltale Signs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913129)

coolguy420: I think someone should do something about Bush!

ciaboy123: a/s/l/address/fingerprint/known associates

Available on the NFS website (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913130)

I wonder if slashdot will be able to unmount them?

Now's a good time... for SSL (3, Insightful)

laurent420 (711504) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913131)

If you didn't have a reason to enable SSL on your IRCD or on your client, now sounds like a GREAT time to do so!

Re:Now's a good time... for SSL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913173)

That's rather useless though if you want to experience the original spirit of IRC.

Ahhh, IRC (5, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913132)

Where men are men,
Women are men,
13 year old girls are FBI agents,
and that guy who never says anything is a CIA bot.

Re:Ahhh, IRC (2, Insightful)

laurent420 (711504) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913187)

you know its funny, everyone mentions BOTs, but did you think about the nature of the IRC protocol. as if the CIA wasn't redirecting other protocols to their workhorse servers for analysis, it would be pretty bloody easy for them to flex their muscle and have TCP/6667+ datagrams routed there as well.

Re:Ahhh, IRC (2, Funny)

endx7 (706884) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913257)

and that guy who never says anything is a CIA bot.

Crap, me and too many others must be CIA bots.

I mean, really, what else is IRC for if not idling?

Now, to analyse those logs effectively... (1)

leonmergen (807379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913133)

... when is the CIA gonna get Google to index all their logs privately so they can actually *do* something with it?

Seriously, how can one possibly do anything with all that data that comes in...

Re:Now, to analyse those logs effectively... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913223)

Exactly, particularly with the fact that there are tons of servers running on tons of different networks, with most users saying nothing of importance *publicly* in the channel. Generally if there's an underhanded transaction going on, it'll be in /msg situations. I've never seen anyone on IRC blatantly bragging about criminal deeds in a public channel...at least not anything the CIA should worry about. /j #durkadurka ; /msg b1n_l4d3n d00d w3 r0x0r3d t3h t0w3r2!

Re:Now, to analyse those logs effectively... (2, Funny)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913235)

... when is the CIA gonna get Google to index all their logs privately so they can actually *do* something with it?

I know I know!!! Google Desktop Search!!!

IRC vs IM (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913135)

IRC is special when compared to Instant Messenging. IM tends to be a one on one thing, something that requires third parties to be invited to.

IRC tends to be much bigger. There are channels and private messages. Plus the big thing about IRC, are the channel modes +i and +s. So if they're talking bots to monitor all channels, yeah right, they're not going to hit the right ones.

Re:IRC vs IM (1)

smacktits (737334) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913319)

Maybe they'll just sniff data packets straight from the servers instead.

Crypt-IRC (1)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913138)

Time for a cryptography architecture to become default in chat apps. "Flying dutchman" data arrangements would be very easy to do in chat rooms, because everyone has to receive the commonly-viewable chatter anyway. P2P chats like Waste seem to be getting more popular as well.

Of course, nobody who has anything to hide knows anything about botnets.

Re:Crypt-IRC (1)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913373)

Time for a cryptography architecture to become default in chat apps.

Can it get any more cryptic than LOL,l8r,ROTFLMAO, np ,kewl and everything spelt with an 3 instead of an E?

Juristiction? (3, Insightful)

Folmer (827037) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913139)

Does anyone know if theyre allowed to "spy" on foreign citizen? If i chat on an european server with fellow europeans i cant see any way that they should be allowed to "spy" on me?

Re:Juristiction? (1)

Sp4c3 C4d3t (607082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913207)

You a terrorist, boy?

Re:Juristiction? (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913209)

Heh, no of course not. Just like they don't monitor cell traffic out of the US. Remember in Afghanistan there for awhile, every time a cell phone call was made a cruise missile got launched.

Re:Juristiction? (2, Informative)

Gharlane of Eddore (676106) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913221)

Legally (theoretically) (yeah right) they are ONLY allowed to spy on foreign citizens/governments. The CIA jurisdiction is supposedly restricted to outside the borders of the U.S. (If those foreign governments/citizens object to being spied on by the U.S. it is up to them to try and obstruct such spying (counter-espionage)). The FBI has the jurisdiction for spying within the borders of the U.S.

Re:Juristiction? (1)

subl33t (739983) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913229)

"Does anyone know if theyre allowed to "spy" on foreign citizen"

Um... did you see the initials CIA?

Re:Juristiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913233)

they're the CIA, it's their job to spy on foreign nationals. americans get upset when the CIA is spying on americans because it's against their charter.

Re:Juristiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913248)

Actually that is thier charter.. The restriction they face in in spying on US citizens

Re:Juristiction? (1)

flossie (135232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913252)

Does anyone know if theyre allowed to "spy" on foreign citizen? If i chat on an european server with fellow europeans i cant see any way that they should be allowed to "spy" on me?

I was under the impression that the CIA were *only* allowed to spy on foreigners and that the FBI had jurisdiction over the US. Nevertheless, I have absolutely no doubt whatsover that the CIA couldn't give a damn about the rights of foreigners. The US administration is only concerned with protecting US interests. The CIA take that to the next level. Be honest, would you expect MI5/FSB/Mossad/etc. to ask for permission before spying on someone?

Re:Juristiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913276)

They're the CIA. They're only allowed to spy on foreign citizens.

Re:Juristiction? (4, Funny)

bigberk (547360) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913339)

Does anyone know if theyre allowed to "spy" on foreign citizen?
Are you trying to be funny? They're a spy agency. Their goal is to gather intelligence. You think the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, and Koreans love being spied on by the USA? The CIA can damn well spy on anyone they want to, at any time. And of course, the CIA isn't the only international organization spying on you, silly.

Solution (1)

Paster Of Muppets (787158) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913140)

Smpl, jst fl thm (c nd nsf) by nt sng vwls. sy!

Heh (4, Informative)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913146)

So basically they received 150k to develop a logging bot? Not that it existed for the past 10 years... I sure hope their technology is more sophisticated than that. Even then, I don't think they'll get usefull info monitoring public chat rooms; its not like terrorists go to #terrorism to chat about their next plan.

Re:Heh (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913241)

/j #terrorism
#terrorism unable to join channel (need correct key)

Re:Heh (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913336)

I sure hope their technology is more sophisticated than that.
I'm guessing all the extra money is for technology to parse the chat logs and extract useful information. I mean, IRC has even more abbreviations and l337-speak than email or IM, so wouldn't it be harder to parse?
I don't think they'll get usefull info monitoring public chat rooms; its not like terrorists go to #terrorism to chat about their next plan.
That's a good point -- this isn't actually all that invasive. I'm a privacy nut (gonna join the ACLU once I get some extra cash), but I don't have a problem with this, since IRC is a public conversation (as opposed to IM or email).

PGP encryption... (0)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913152)

...will fix that, no prob.

Not the government's fault (5, Insightful)

EM Adams (463821) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913155)

The only reason the government gets technology like this developed is intelligent people will do anything for their degree or grant money. Until we all stand together and refuse to help Americans spy on other Americans or any one else in the world our rights will continue to slowly errode because of people like the researchers at Rensellaer. Really, they are the ones who need to be punished by ostracizing them from the scientific community and their neighborhoods to make it clear that any one who accepts tax dollars to further the goals of Big Brother are not welcome in our hearts or minds as comrades.

Re:Not the government's fault (2, Funny)

fair_n_hite_451 (712393) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913302)

*CIA_Silent_Running_botServ Activated ("comrades" key word - class naughty detected)
///Initiate background_check_with_extreme_prejudice @ user EM_Adams///
///Begin create_fake_logs in (#overthrow, #terrorcentral, #McVeyDaMan!)///
///AutoGenerate GitMo_Reservation///

don't worry (5, Funny)

digid (259751) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913156)

* digid slaps CIA-bot around a bit with a large trout

Re:don't worry (1)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913250)

I suppose it's better than a sharp pokey thing in the eye.

ROFL!! (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913264)

a/s/m?

Suspicious activity (1)

Winlin (42941) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913162)

asl?
arabic suicide legions? , actively seeking liquidators?
And just wait till their lurkbot gets cybered a few thousand times

CIA also has plans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913168)

To become the most leet release crew on Usenet. They had the "24" isos before anyone.

Umm... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913176)

Isn't that considered interstate wiretapping?

The last time I checked, federal law said you needed a warrant to do that.

Re:Umm... (1)

anti-tech (724667) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913317)

The Patriot Act cured that small issue

Its time... (1)

Caligari (180276) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913186)

for people to start using Secure Internet Live Conferencing.
http://silcnet.org/ [silcnet.org]

How Soon... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913194)

From the article:
> How soon until all IM conversations are monitored by Big Brother?

<musicfan> Hey, anyone got The Smiths - How Soon Is Now.mp *THUMPTHUMPTHUMP* "FEDERAL COPYRIGHT CZAR SQUAD! PUT DOWN THE HEADPHONES AND STEP AWAY FROM THE IPOD!"
*** Disconnected

No expectation of privacy (4, Informative)

3Suns (250606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913197)

I don't see how people can be upset about monitoring chatrooms, unless they were actually doing something questionable with that data. As most of IRC is a completely public network by design, there is no expectation of privacy. And it's also well-known that your IP address is exposed to all those on the server.

IM conversations are a different matter, though. There, the network is private, run by a company, and the expectation is that the conversations are private as well. It might very well be illegal for AOL (and other IM networks) to be monitoring individual IM sessions.

Re:No expectation of privacy (3, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913272)

There ya go. Didn't Nixon say that, if you don't have anything to hide why do you want us to get a search warrant.

Re:No expectation of privacy (1)

3Suns (250606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913308)

That's not my point. Talking on IRC is not a private conversation, and everybody knows that anyone can be listening and/or logging. You never need a warrant to, say, listen to a protester give a speech in public, which is also an example of non-private conversation.

give me your money, slave. (4, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913368)

I don't see how people can be upset about monitoring chatrooms, unless they were actually doing something questionable with that data. As most of IRC is a completely public network by design, there is no expectation of privacy.

It's easy to understand why I'm upset. You might understand the next time you pay your taxes. Remember that a fraction of your hard work is going to pay for your government to listen in on your conversations. Many people are making a living at it. I think they and my government have better uses for my money. I did not ask for it, I don't like it and I don't want to pay for it. it's also well-known that your IP address is exposed to all those on the server.

If you don't mind that kind of thing, perhaps I can interest you in a few personal services. For the low price of $50/hr, I'll log all of the communications from your "exposed" IP address, cull what I want, damage your reputation by questioning your peers if I note anything suspicious and even charge you with crimes if you happen to say the wrong thing. Most of the work will be automated but I take no responsibility for the information being stolen by insurance companies, employers and other organizations that have a direct impact on your quality of life. By freedom of information, I'll be sure to let people know that I'm investigating you but I'll tell them that I'm an official government agency, so they won't question my motives and will instead turn their suspicions onto you. Sound like a good deal?

Pay up!

Simple enough.. (1)

J-B0nd (682712) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913201)

Key your channel, make it hidden, make it invite only with a bot set up to invite people, and run it on a secure network like Linknet using SSL to connect.

Re:Simple enough.. (1)

netsharc (195805) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913366)

And the CIA's AliceBot will fool that lonely teenage geek chan-op to invite "her" in.

Amazing (1)

RM6f9 (825298) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913203)

It is amazing that anybody is naive enough to believe that any computer connected to the internet has any privacy at all. The only question is one of "Big Brother"'s resources and priorities...

Security reasons HA! (4, Funny)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913206)

They are just trying to find the best quotes and submit them to bash.org

Re:Security reasons HA! (4, Funny)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913309)

#88575 +(3525)- [X]

<Stormrider> I should bomb something
<Stormrider> ...and it's off the cuff remarks like that that are the reason I don't log chats
<Stormrider> Just in case the FBI ever needs anything on me
<Elzie_Ann> I'm sure they can just get it from someone who DOES log chats.
*** FBI has joined #gamecubecafe
<FBI> We saw it anyway.
*** FBI has quit IRC (Quit: )
Wrong agency, but still funny.

Eliza anyone? (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913214)

I've been wondering for years why I don't see any chatroom bots built on Eliza or Alice. It seems to me these could be much more useful in both advertising and gathering information.

Has anyone ever tried this?

Re:Eliza anyone? (2, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913285)

Sure, there are plenty of them.

Here's [jibble.org] the first google hit for "irc bot ai", there are plenty more.

I don't think they're useful, but they can be entertaining when some leghumping 15 year old kid gets into a fight with, or hits on one.

Re:Eliza anyone? (1)

davron05 (778470) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913369)

there indeed are couple of IRC bots implementing Eliza talking engine, my favourite one is the cybersex bot [vgmix.com] (make sure to read couple of it's logs. there also exists an eliza extension [niemueller.de] for eggdrop.

Nothing new... is it? (1)

un1xl0ser (575642) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913216)

The CIA/FBI et cetera have been onto the IRC seen for a long time. What's new? Automated logging instead of people? They would be crazy not to log channels now. Technology has been there for a while.

obligatory 1337-ification (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913230)

Big Brother is watching j00

what if... (1)

lordsid (629982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913249)

these what if's have already happened, just not the CIA doing. NSA monitors all intercontinental data traffic already. including im's. /shiny tin foil hat

Thats not much money. (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913251)

Would fund one PhD researcher for 1.5 years here. You cannot do very much with that, especially if people are trying to hide.

Seems to me this is more a shot in the dark.

This is NOT the first CIA automated tool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913260)

In the nineties, those bastards developed an automated tool that could autonomously punch the monkey. Very scary indeed.

What are they looking for? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913268)

From the article:

"CNet News is reporting that the CIA has been quietly investing in research programs to automatically monitor Internet chat rooms. In a two year agreement with the National Science Foundation, CIA officials were involved with the selection of recipients for research grants to develop automated chat room monitors. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received $157,673 from the CIA and NSF for their proposal of 'a system to be deployed in the background of any chat room as a silent listener for eavesdropping ... The proposed system could aid the intelligence community to discover hidden communities and communication patterns in chat rooms without human intervention.' How soon until all IM conversations are monitored by Big Brother? The abstract of the proposal is available on the NFS website."

Isn't that the job of the NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913269)

What the CIA is trying to get a piece of the electronic spying pie now? That is the NSA's job!!!

Echelon - already done (4, Insightful)

Magickcat (768797) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913270)

Anyone who thinks that the CIA doesn't already have systems to automatically monitor email, chatrooms etc - needs to read a bit more on intelligence technology. This would fall under "Echelon" [hiwaay.net] anyhow.

The NSF might lack the tools, but I sincerely doubt that the CIA are developing these sorts of very basic tools. More likely, the NSF aren't given access or information on the extent of CIA information gathering.

Also, I imagine such a news article makes the public likely to believe that the technology isn't already in active use.

Isn't this against the CIA charter? (1)

smacktits (737334) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913279)

The CIA aren't allowed to operate on USA soil, if I remember correctly (plus I'm not American). So... I suppose they would have to limit themselves to spying on foreign-based IRC servers only.

How does this marry with spying on US citizens, in the US, but connected to foreign servers? This sounds like a giant minefield as far as I'm concerned.

threat models (3, Insightful)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913280)

The CIA is still being semi-passive here. It's shady seeming, but I think if you can join freely, they can as well.

This surpasses basic monitoring of clear text protocols like irc but it still doesn't have the ability to monitor where you must actually be a part of a community. If you use irc over SSL, you're in the clear from passive and undetectable monitoring. This obviously gets around that but it means that they will have some interesting people poking around with people who normally do the poking on networks.

The rand corp goes one step further and seeks to hire people to become members of groups by being an outright spy. Pretty interesting stuff. It was on cypherpunks a while back.

It should be assumed that if you don't use encryption, it can be monitored. If you use encryption (irc over ssl, silc, etc) in a broadcast medium (for an entire room), you should assume it's monitored also. It would just have to be monitored by an agent of some sort.

It's all about the threat model you're up against.

They weren't doing this already? (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913284)

I would have thought they had this one nailed ages ago!

Tinfoil hat time (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913311)

I've always assumed that AIM conversations were subject to some kind of monitoring, if just the most cursory scanning for certain keywords. Why else would all traffic need to go through AOL-controlled servers?

I had a nightmare the other night (1, Interesting)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10913312)

I had a nightmare the other night that the NSA was after me for posting pictures on the Internet that made fun of George W Bush.

Researching? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10913371)

I think it has been in place for a long time. If you mean they are going to go public about it, then yes they will "CLAIM" that they are starting it.
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