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Shredded Secret Police Files Being Reassembled

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the burn-the-papers-from-now-on dept.

Security 222

An anonymous reader writes "German researchers at the Frauenhofer Institute said Wednesday that they were launching an attempt to reassemble millions of shredded East German secret police files using complicated computerized algorithms. The files were shredded as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and it became clear that the East German regime was finished. Panicking officials of the Stasi secret police attempted to destroy the vast volumes of material they had kept on everyone from their own citizens to foreign leaders."

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222 comments

Uh-oh (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061375)

East Germany is fucked now.

Re:Uh-oh (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061479)

you think thats bad? communism is screwed even more now

Re:Uh-oh (4, Interesting)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061757)

You could be right. Apparently, according to a radio report I heard some months ago now, this program and evidence has been in place for some time and the reason they haven't done anything is because of intese political pressure.

Intense political pressure? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061909)

So, who is pressuring the Fraunhofner(sp?) Institute not to do this? Did Germany's Communist Party gain seats last election?

Re:Intense political pressure? (4, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062285)

So, who is pressuring the Fraunhofner(sp?) Institute not to do this? Did Germany's Communist Party gain seats last election?

Er, what do you think happened to people who were part of the former power structure in east germany?

Based on what I've heard from someone who lived in east germany at the time, there was a mad scramble to gain advantage when east germany fell, and despite some sort of attempts to hold the "bad guys" to account, there were many cases of things not quite working they way they were supposed to -- e.g. people successfully hiding their past, and even worse, people cynically using the system to gain personal advantage (e.g., denounce your [innocent] neighbor, grab his property in the confusion).

As a result, there are almost certainly many people in positions of power in germany today who would rather like to keep details of the east german past hidden.

Re:Intense political pressure? (2, Interesting)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062315)

So, who is pressuring the Fraunhofner(sp?) Institute not to do this? Did Germany's Communist Party gain seats last election?
IIRC there has been a lot of pressure (political or legal) by those who could be implicated. I believe many of these records contain information on civilian informers who could now be Politicians and other influential people who wouldn't want this information to come out.

Re:Intense political pressure? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062777)

Did Germany's Communist Party gain seats last election?

Why yes they did!

The old East German SED, became the PDS [wikipedia.org] after re-unification. To quote Wikipedia: "In 2005 the PDS, renamed the Left Party, entered an electoral alliance with the western Germany-based Electoral Alternative for Labor and Social Justice (WASG) and won 8.7% of the vote in Germany's September 2005 federal elections (more than double the PDS' 4% share in the 2002 election)."

Rule #5143: Never ask a question ironically unless you already know the answer.

Re:Uh-oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062455)

NY Times had an article about this on July 17th, 2003 named "Back Together Again" by Douglas Heingartner that pretty much covered the same material.

Jigsaw Puzzle (5, Interesting)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061379)

Maybe someone could create an online jigsaw puzzle game, and let the internet people reassemble those docs.

Re:Jigsaw Puzzle (5, Funny)

ricklg (162560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061535)

Maybe a new distributed computing project--STASI@Home?

Re:Jigsaw Puzzle (1)

DataBroker (964208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061773)

OOooOOoooOOoooo... Finally a use for all of PS3 cycles that are going unused!! Or even better, make it a real game that lets people try to interactively assemble the pieces online with others, and then run in automated mode when the user gets tired.

Re:Jigsaw Puzzle (5, Funny)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062351)

STASI@Home is hardly a new project!

Re:Jigsaw Puzzle (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062933)

Really it should be called Achtung_Willkommen_Ihre_neuen_kommunistischen_Deut schen_Ostmeister@home

Re:Jigsaw Puzzle (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061635)

The researchers want to see the pieces reassembled into the original documents, not into a crude version of goatse.cx.

Trust? (5, Insightful)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061411)

"Many important documents are slumbering in these sacks"

And they will just re-shred the private, personal stuff, correct?

Re:Trust? (3, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061563)

Exactly, why is these guys having the information any better than German secret police? Most of this information is probably private and better off lost.

Re:Trust? (5, Funny)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061931)

Oh no, we'll be invading the privacy of some dead/near-death OAPs! And we should shred Mozart's letters too, what would Mozart say if he knew we were reading his letters about ####ing his cousin?!

Dead people don't care too much about their privacy; they're dead. Ask yourself "will I care about my privacy after I'm dead?" If you said yes you probably don't understand what death means.

Re:Trust? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061993)

If I were dead, I may not care about my personal information that would have affected me if I were alive. Though my personal information that may affect my family and friends who are still alive is another thing.

Re:Trust? (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062007)

'Oh no, we'll be invading the privacy of some dead/near-death OAPs!'

We are talking about East Germany, not Nazi Germany. There could be dirt on people in their twenties in those files.

Re:Trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062565)

Thank you for that. Coincidentally, the fortune was:

Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come. -- William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

Re:Trust? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062831)

*thinks*

*cancels meeting with attorney about Last Will and Testament*

Re:Trust? (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061581)

You know what else I love? I love the way they are the vile communist evil secret east german police who spied on their citizens and foreign leaders. Yet our own wonderful friendly giant FBI keeps every scrap of information it gathers on private citizens and the CIA does the same for foreign leaders. Hell, our own secret police (the NSA) probably does both.

Re:Trust? (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061645)

because you know, the american agencies don't torture or abduct people... oh wait a sec! they do!

Re:Trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061697)

Despite what you may have learned on TV, the NSA don't do police stuff. That is the CIA's department. The NSA breaks codes and analyzes data (and stores it, as you mention), but no guns.

Re:Trust? (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061819)

According to whom? The NSA isn't supposed to do police stuff. The last time I heard of the NSA publicly commenting on what they do or don't do was when a congressional oversight committee was convened to investigate whether they have been wiretapping citizens without warrants. The NSA's only comment to the oversight committee was that subjecting itself to oversight would risk national security. They didn't turn over paperwork or show up for the hearing.

I don't recall there being much media coverage after that, it just sort of went away.

Re:Trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061877)

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

Re:Trust? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061903)

You all are wasting your time. The NSA doesn't exist.

Re:Trust? (1)

Crunchie Frog (791929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062021)

You all are wasting your time. The NSA doesn't exist.
That's right. Above the exit to the NSA buildings are signs which read "Guys remember, 1st and 2nd rules apply. Now GTFO"

Re:Trust? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062693)

You all are wasting your time. The NSA doesn't exist.

Exactly, there's No Such Agency.

Re:Trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061991)

When the FBI can use "security letters" to get anything they want domestically, and the CIA can extract and torture whoever they can get their hands on abroad, why would the NSA need to get their hands dirty? Hell, I wouldn't give those Poindexters a weapon even for self-defense. They'd probably just take out a leg or something.

that's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062905)

They are too busy making cubic boat loads of cash with all the insider biz info they collect and collate. No need to get your hands dirty when you can just subcontract out all the messy work with your pocket change. In fact, how is that buying up your own bonds racket going?

Re:Trust? (3, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061905)

And as a matter of fact, not all the Stasi files are in Germany. The CIA swiped a significant number of them when The Wall fell. They returned some of them, but still retain quite a few.

So yes, I agree, evil / trust is a merely question of perspective.

Re:Trust? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062067)

Um, no. The retention of the assembled file allows you to request your STASI file. When you do the personal information pertaining to others, except STASI and their informers, is blanked out.

People aren't too concerned about the privacy aspects of the German government retaining the STASI files. They are no longer being maintained and, more importantly, no longer being acted upon. If you can't find a job in unified Germany it is because of economics, not because of your friend/neighbour/teacher's mutterings to the STASI. Similarly, any people following you are criminal stalkers, not the government. And no one cares which way your TV antenna points, let alone photographs it and adds it to your file.

Germany is pretty unique in allowing citizens access to its once-secret police files. No other Eastern European country does this. Even the files maintained by the US FBI on figures like Rev Dr Martin Luther King have not been opened to Dr King's familty to the extent of the STASI archives. Some, like Russia, continue to maintain and act upon the files (although this was never done to the manic extent as happened in the GDR).

For English readers I'd highly recommend "Stasiland" by Anna Funder.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061433)

The requested URL (it/07/05/10/0024233.shtml) was not found.

The Stasi live!

Human efforts? (5, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061441)

Some 16,250 sacks containing pieces of 45 million shredded documents were found and confiscated after the reunification of Germany in 1990. Reconstruction work began 12 years ago but 24 people have been able to reassemble the contents of only 323 sacks.
Bah, just distribute them among nursing homes and tell the seniors it's a jigsaw puzzle.

They'll have it assembled before you can say "Matlock"!

- RG>

Re:Human efforts? (0, Flamebait)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061595)

Tell them they get to drive through a Farmer's Market full of people by using only the accelerator pedal and they'll get it done even faster.


Re:Human efforts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062447)

Wow, that was lame.

Re:Human efforts? (1)

adminstring (608310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061997)

Translated into German, that's "Hasselhoff!"

shredding is so last week.... (4, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061459)

why didn't they also burn them if they really wanted them gone? C'mon they could make a person vanish, but they can manage to successfully destroy paper?

Re:shredding is so last week.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061759)

why didn't they also burn them if they really wanted them gone? C'mon they could make a person vanish, but they can manage to successfully destroy paper?

That's not easily done when the angry mob is right in front of your office. The shredding was mostly a panic reaction because angry citizens were in front of the Stasi office preparing to raid to place. The Stasi employees panicked and stuffed the shredders with so many files that they eventually broke down.

Re:shredding is so last week.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061791)

The Berlin Wall and the East German government fell really fast and suddenly--there wasn't much time for the Stasi to clear out its office. The Stasi had to shred the papers anyway (imagine someone liberating a whole document from a bonfire) and didn't have time to arrange a controlled burn for all those papers.

Re:shredding is so last week.... (2, Informative)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062541)

The aim was to make a vast bonfire of secrets [news.com.au] , but it proved impossible to organise the trucks to take the brown paper sacks to a quarry outside Magdeburg.

Re:shredding is so last week.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062569)

Actually burning reams and reams of paper takes a lot of work and a lot of time, during the fall, they probably didn't have time or peoples to handle it. Single sheets of paper burn quickly, thick stacks of paper don't.

asking for trouble (0, Troll)

Karma Sucks (127136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061473)

Isn't this the same company whose name is virtually synonymous with music piracy? AFAIK these are the guys who invented the DRM-free MP3 format which is now a major enabling factor for music piracy in the US. The RIAA (and by consequence the US government) must hate these guys, but now provoking the enemity of the German secret police is just asking for it.

Re:asking for trouble (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061553)

True, but didn't they get upset with people making mp3 encoders? Something about copyright or patents if I remember...

Re:asking for trouble (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061825)

Isn't this the same company whose name is virtually synonymous with music piracy? AFAIK these are the guys who invented the DRM-free MP3 format which is now a major enabling factor for music piracy in the US.

Just because they made a DRM-free format doesn't make them enablers of music piracy. There are many other DRM-free audio formats. It's not up to file-format makers to police the world. They made a format that works well, and it became popular because of it.

Re:asking for trouble (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061833)

these are the guys who invented the DRM-free MP3 format which is now a major enabling factor for music piracy in the US. The RIAA (and by consequence the US government) must hate these guys, but now provoking the enemity of the German secret police is just asking for it.

Don't they get royalties from MP3 player sells? MS was in royalty lawsuit with them IIRC for Windows having an MP3 player.

Does that mean if I shred my MP3 player and then try to put it back together, I have to pay this company twice?
     

Re:asking for trouble (1)

umdenken (729008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062603)

No... "Fraunhofer" is synonymous with research - it's a huge network of government-funded and university-partnered research labs like "Max Planck", "NASA JPL", etc. I worked there as a researcher in the publishing & artificial intelligence division.

sweet (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061497)

Unshred@home, sign me up.

Re:sweet (1)

Faux_Pseudo (141152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062441)

I was actually thinking this would be called Stasi@home.

But then I started thinking about it. This would not be a good distributed project. There are some things that might be better off not in the hands of joe and jane q public. Most of the Stasi stuff info was useless but there could be real information in there which 18 years later. Slim chance but still a chance.

Iranian Revolution (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061515)

The Iranian revolutionaries did the same thing to CIA documents in the embassy. The re-assembled documents are available at www.memoryhole.org

Re:Iranian Revolution (4, Informative)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061663)

The Iranian revolutionaries did the same thing to CIA documents in the embassy. The re-assembled documents are available at www.memoryhole.org

I think you mean http://www.thememoryhole.org/ [thememoryhole.org]

Re:Iranian Revolution (1)

hugorxufl (1071598) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062485)

Anytime I see a URL with "hole" in it, i'm reluctant to click. It brings back memories of when links to goatse.cx were everywhere.

Why are these documents important? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061517)

Is it just curiosity, or is there some real practical reason for doing this?

Re:Why are these documents important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062189)

Is it just curiosity, or is there some real practical reason for doing this?


Exactly. What is this history thing people are talking about anyway? Why would one want to know what was going on in the past? The concept of facts and knowledge is just overestimated thing and I'd like to live in a pit all my life. I'd me much happier not knowing what went on in STASI, which was one of the most important and powerful spy organizations in the world. Who wants to know detailed information from history? I'm with you - let's burn all the books and internet. Ban Google, ban free speech! Ignorance is strength!

Re:Why are these documents important? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062979)

Yes, to find out what the Stasi were doing.

Two reasons stick out to me, the first is that the world has a right to know (especially if something terrible happened there) and the second is that some sort of restitution can be made to any people or families that were affected, even just closure would be good enough.

hide the shreds? (1)

smiltee (1099075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061523)

So where can we see these documents? What, they are hiding them?

In Soviet Russia (5, Funny)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061539)

Secret police reassembles shredded researchers?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061631)

No, then in Democratic Germany researchers would have to reassemble shredded secret police, and we aren't dealing with shredded secret police. ;)

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061559)

I, for one, welcome our new Gestapo-Like-East-German-Shredded-Secret-Document- Reassembling...oberherren...

Why do this, you ask? (5, Interesting)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061589)

I think that the pursuit of historical documentation and a better understanding of a strange and dangerous period of the near past should justify the project alone. As someone who grew up as an American in that neck of the woods, pre and post Soviet demise, it's going to be really interesting to see what they find.

After they finished with that job ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061609)

... we have a shit load of bags marked "Bush Administration" that are in need of their talents. =)

Hmmm... (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061621)

[...]vast volumes of material they had kept on everyone from their own citizens to foreign leaders[...]

Wonder if the purpose is to find out what East Germany was doing for posterity's sake? Or might the purpose be for some future use?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061719)

The purpose is historical. But since the main reason files were shredded was to hide the identities and crimes committed by state employees and ordinary people who spied against their neighbours and caused them to be tortured and killed, this has the potential for explosive consequences.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061841)

But since the main reason files were shredded was to hide the identities and crimes committed by state employees and ordinary people who spied against their neighbours and caused them to be tortured and killed, this has the potential for explosive consequences.
Yes, it does indeed. Note that nearly one person in every four in East Berlin was Stasi, or an informant of some sort. However, very few have ever been identified. There will, for certain, be currently prominent or influential people listed in those documents who spied for the Stasi.

Piecing these together is going to make a lot of people very nervous - as indeed it should.

shredding and taxes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061699)

Of course they did the tax documents first...

Will we get to read more known knowns -faster? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061707)

Few fun parts to this.
It will take many many years by hand.
Western politicians and others are totally protected from any info found on them.
The CIA got the list to world wide spy network.
Some info on http://cryptome.org/cia-foi-stasi.htm [cryptome.org]


I really hope it will make the work faster but will be very surprised if any 'real' info is ever released.

Barry Bonds is an ex-East German athlete? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061711)

"Female", of course.

Is that the big secret those files hold?

whos winning. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061715)

Hey i havent been reading the news recently. does anyone know the outcome of WWII. last i heard the US was ahead by 2

Re:whos winning. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061871)





Hey i havent been reading the news recently. does anyone know the outcome of WWII. last i heard the US was ahead by 2



Anne Frank lost.






scanning 16,000 sacks of shredded paper... (2, Funny)

mythar (1085839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061749)

should take a few hundred years. after that, the computer will be able to reassemble all of the documents in 30 seconds. whew!

Unscramble an Egg (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061755)

Holy shit, all those cliches about "harder than unscrambling an egg" are being made obsolete by computers. Can I also have my ass unkicked?
         

Shredding not safe anymore? (4, Interesting)

erice (13380) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061789)

This could be a little disturbing, if it works. How long before the technology trickles down to the identity thief around the corner? We are now told to shred everything. What happens when shredding is not enough?

Re:Shredding not safe anymore? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061851)

cross shredding (cutting in both directions rather than just along the length) makes it harder to reassemble but probablly not impossible. i dunno if theese documents were just plain shredded or cross shredded.

if you really want paper destroyed your best options are probablly burning and pulping.

another thing you can do is spread the shredded material out, if some goes in your bin at home, some in the local tip and some in your bin at the office then its going to be much harder for one person to get all the material

Re:Shredding not safe anymore? (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061865)

Throw it into a wood stove - and hope that no toxic inks or bleach is used in the production of said paper, for your neighbors' sake.

For a more environmentally benign method of destruction, pulp it, and if you have no use for low grade ink contaminated paper pulp, you can always put it out in the recycling with your newspapers.

Re:Shredding not safe anymore? (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061889)

Then burn it, mash it into a power, and wash it down the sink. Be a little creative next time.

Re:Shredding not safe anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19061927)

Clearly, shredding is not enough. This is a systematic effort to piece together a vast number of documents. In a worst-case attack scenario, shredding is obviously insufficient. Say you shred one single page with some vital information on it, and I come by later to pick up your shredded document, which by coincidence is still the only shredded document in your wastebasket at that time. The result is a monotonuous, but potentially profitable jigsaw puzzle of a few hundreds or thousands of pieces, which is really no worse in terms of difficulty than what we sell to kids for amusement.

I assume that most shredded material in secured processes is burnt or otherwise destroyed after being shredded. This wouldn't make the shredding entirely useless; it clearly prevents anything except a careful, targeted, determined attack, and it is immediately verifiable(it's very easy to note that a document has been shredded; if you set a document on fire it's not as easy to verify that the fire has made it impossible to read the text—especially if you allow the possibility of an attacker with sophisticated forensic equipment). It seems to me that this is the greatest advantage of shredding; something is either obviously shredded or obviously not, and there is no need to verify that your documents have been "well shredded" beyond casual inspection. This makes it a potentially good method as a first step.

These papers were mostly strip shredded (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062895)

not cross-cut but just in strips like old shredders used to do. That means the job is infinitely easier.

Also, mix your bin around. Add multiple papers, and take out others so all the pieces are not in the same place or thrown out at the same time. The chances a thief can economically put together those shreds from a vast assortment drops to almost nil when it's not guaranteed the entire paper is even there.

Unless you are Bill Gates, you are not interesting enough to waste time on. The thief will move on to easier targets who take no precautions (as in not shredding period).

Re:These papers were mostly strip shredded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19063017)

I like to add in some food waste if I can too. Stuff that will rot, stain and discolor the paper, cause clumping and smell bad. So if someone wants to get in there, it's gonna be a stinky mess.

Shreader stock (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061795)

Time to buy shreader stock because all the shreader companies are going to have to make new models that turn paper into powder, creating a new market just like obsolete PC's. Then when inventors figure out how to unpowder paper, these companies will sell the next atomizer model.

Re:Shreader stock (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061919)

Or they can buy a furnace.

they already have these models (1)

kurokaze (221063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062671)

I know for a fact that there exists shredders that will turn a piece of paper into particles smaller than a grain of salt. The Canadian Military uses one. I'm sure your respective intelligence agencies probably have a few as well.

Re:they already have these models (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062751)

Back when I was in the Canadian Military, it was just crosscut shredders. One of my tasks at a certain posting was to gather up the bags of shredded classified waste, take them out to the incinerator, and have a little bonfire. And to make sure the ashes were thoroughly stirred when done.

Mind, these days the "secret" underground base where I did that is now a tourist attraction (the "Diefenbunker", near Carp north of Ottawa).

New from Staples... (1)

SeaDour (704727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061817)

The Document Crematory!! Incinerates all of your sensitive documents, transforming them into completely unreadable ash.

Iran Tackled the Same Problem (4, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061827)

Did anyone else read the Wired Article about how the CIA got some Americans out of Iran using a fake cover story about producing a Sci-Fi movie in Iran [wired.com] ? After the Iranians took our embassy during their revolution, they hired a bunch of rug weavers to reassemble our shredded documents according to article. Wonder how successful they were...

Re:Iran Tackled the Same Problem (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061895)

They have cds packed with scans. Makes for fun reading.

stole my post :'-( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062345)

hi,

impressed to see this so early in the comments. This shows how damn big intellect Slashdoters have. Ohh.. wait is not coming from deep dough sources... "Wired" ehem... I take back what I just said. I didn't know that Wired mentioned it, I skimmed through that crap article. Yeah USA "Panicking officials" did shred tons of documents. However they didn't "hire a bunch of rug weavers", they were University students. They were successful up to a point, which end up in TOMES instead of books, lol. They were some hard files and they mentioned something along these lines: "The rest is too difficult with current methods which needs complicated algorithm. We leave them for future generations when the technology is available".

Could be interesting to find out if they are aware of this news and whether they would use it to re-assemble the rest of documents. I wonder what's in those documents.

After this USA changed the protocol for this kind of situation.

By the way, on a technical note. How do you use the algorithm with a shredded pile of paper? Are the shreds scanned or what?

Rainbow's End (2, Informative)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061855)

Reminds me of that somewhat bizarre subplot in Vinge's latest novel "Rainbow's End" where there was a big project to digitize all the university libraries, and some guy came up with the fastest way to do it: just throw all the books into a giant shredder, and then gave lots of cameras taking pictures of every last bit from every andle as it comes blowing out the other end...then re-assemble it all in a computer.

Seemed a little far-fetched to me, even for Vinge.

Finally... (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061925)

A use for the Minority Report style interface. Something tells me they aren't using Silverlight though!

MP3 secrets? (1)

Shabbs (11692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061939)

Why is the creator of MP3 shredding documents? Oh... wrong institute. Never mind... nothing to see here. Move along.

Cheney's Dicked (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19061967)

Now we've got something for Cheney to do after we've impeached him: dole out the tape while they reassemble all the evidence he's shredded [crooksandliars.com] the past 7 years.

Then we can hang him for treason.

Re:Cheney's Dicked (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062433)

Remember folks! It's not the nature of the evidence, but the seriousness of the charge that matters here. Let the witch hunt begin. Yey!!!

Re:Cheney's Dicked (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062651)

You are one weird dude to be crying about Cheney, evidence, and seriousness. And I mean one: the only person left who doesn't realize Cheney is the devil. And that mere "witch hunts" are too puny when stalking the devil.

Please tell me more about yourself, so we can have some details before your peculiar species is finally extinct. But hey, Dick, is that you?

jigsaw puzzle? (1)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062201)

So say you had a document that was shredded the standard way, like strips of paper.

Put 'em in a hopper, and have an assembly line with a narrow page scanner scan 'em up and store them on a hard drive.

Then write an app that scans the left & right edges of the paper. Look for a similar pattern of edges(ink) on any other strip. Try to put 'em together and see if it forms words. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sounds like a jigsaw puzzle.

Would that un-shred them?

Das Leben der Anderen (4, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062269)

If you get a chance to see Das Leben der Anderen ("The Lives of Others", http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405094/ [imdb.com] ), definitely do not miss it. It is a slightly fantastic conflation of plausible events tied together with a story about fictional characters, but it is said, by people who lived in DDR at the time, to be chillingly accurate (though not without problems, it's a movie after all.)

I'd certainly enjoy hearing from anyone who lived in the DDR, who has seen this film; particularly if they had personal interaction with the STASI.

Her mit den Frauen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19062387)

A "Frauenhofer" Institute doesn't exist.

Retarded.

Just like in the cartoons (1)

wesley78 (1086999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062779)

The evil villain types never seem to learn a good lesson. In the cartoons, the villain captures the hero, tells him an evil secret and discloses all necessary information on how to stop the evil plan once the hero undoubtedly escapes. In the real world, evil villains have people sift through trash and recreate shredded documents and then shred the documents to hide the evidence. In this case, all they really needed to do was have on last book-burning-bonfire for "old times" sake and toss in a few documents as well. Seriously... matches are so much cheaper and more effective than shredders. Heck with that... I'll get one of my henchman to rub some sticks together and save my 79 cents.

The same files in different hands (3, Insightful)

chicago_scott (458445) | more than 7 years ago | (#19062781)

I hope that the people reassembling the files don't misuse them in the same way that the East German government did. Wouldn't it be better to permanently destroy the files since they shouldn't have been compiled by the East German government in the first place?

Stasiland by Anna Funder (2, Informative)

hedley (8715) | more than 7 years ago | (#19063019)

I was curious on the Stasi after enjoying the recent(USwise) release of the "Lives of Others" It won an academy award. Anyway, Funders book covers this topic of the sacks of shredded documents. The statistics were rediculous and 100's of years would be needed at the rate they were getting through the sacks. Kindof like the Blechley park people, recruitment seeks special skills, in this case, people who enjoyed board puzzles were hired.

The book is a good read, this systematic control they had on a society from cradle to grave produced some very odd people and behaviours.

Check out the film also.

Hedley
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