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NSF-Funded "Dark Web" to Battle Terrorists

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the whos-watching-the-watchers dept.

The Internet 258

BuzzSkyline writes "The National Science Foundation has announced a new University of Arizona project, which they call the Dark Web, intended to monitor all terrorist activity on the Internet. The project relies on 'advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis [to] find, catalog and analyze extremist activities online.' The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

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258 comments

5% (3, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577353)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

So when they get it wrong, and the police storm my front door instead of my neighbors, will it still be "cool"?

Re:5% (2, Funny)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577383)

Man, I bet the British would have loved to have such a tool when they were occupying Ireland and Scotland. All those filthy Scottish and Irish terrorists would have been no trouble at all.

Re:5% (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577855)

Ha! This is awesome because it's totally true! NO ONE likes those filthy bastards!

Hey, Mickey! Have another pint of whiskey, you drunk-ass, wifebeating spudsucker!

They kind of covered that. (1, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577937)

From TFA:

A recent report estimates that there are more than 5,000 Web sites created and maintained by known international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Iraqi insurgencies, and many home-grown terrorist cells in Europe.

One man's "terrorist" is another man's "Freedom fighter".

Re:They kind of covered that. (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578113)

Iraqi's don't care for them. I think that's the best vote.

About 20% of "colonists" opposed our Independence. (3, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578407)

Back around 1776 there were a large number (about 20% of our population) of "Loyalists" who opposed our Independence.

If you had polled England at the time, and those Loyalists, you'd understand that the "terrorists" had control of the "colonies".

If England had won, every one of those "terrorists" who had signed their little "Declaration" would have been hanged. And their would have been rejoicing in the streets of the colonies.

Re:5% (4, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577397)

I'm more curious how they're going to get 95% accuracy on who the person is without a large number of samples of non-anonymous writings from them. It seems obvious that they're really claiming that, with a large number of writing samples from the writer, they can get 95% accuracy. If they're actually claiming to be able to determine who anonymous people are without any non-anonymous writing by them then that's a system I have to see...

Re:5% (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577449)

More likely it'll be along the lines of "These anon posts seem to be from the same person, and we should make more attempt to trace several of them to their source, rather than wasting our efforts on those over there..."

And simple to defeat? (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577589)

Instead of posting anything anonymously yourself, just tell someone else to post it. There speling errors will not be the smae as your's and their sentence structure will be different.

Okay, they'll be able to group all of his posting as being posted by him ... but they won't be able to tie it to him unless he also posts a lot of stuff non-anonymously.

Re:And simple to defeat? (2, Insightful)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577723)

Or they have YASWTP - Yet Anothe Secret Wiretap Program snatch one of the posts. And they're really only limited by what they can do in the States (or what they give lip service to as "not being able to do") - in other countries the gloves are pretty much off and only limited by how much the other country can figure out.

Don't think for a second that they aren't trying to actively hack some of the more popular places these things are being posted. If they can get one honey pot and the correlate that guys posts to others, they have all they need.

It's not even that difficult. (3, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577879)

Every TCP/IP packet has a source address and a destination address.

So all that the government would need would be the addresses of the web sites (no matter where they are located) and taps on the pipelines. You can either try to catch the stuff going OUT of your country or going INTO their country (if you can't just tap the line of that website).

That will tell you who, in your country, is going there.

As long as it isn't using encryption, you'll even get what is being read/posted.

If it is using encryption, you still should have the location of the guy reading/posting. Or you can try cracking the encryption.

Once you have the location of the guy, you get a warrant and put a keylogger on his box or whatever.

There's no need for all of this crap about "darkweb". Google can already tell you what is posted on what websites. If these guys are smart enough to beat the basics, they're smart enough to know NOT to use the Internet for point-to-point communications.

Re:It's not even that difficult. (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578199)

That really only works if you can count on your targets connecting directly to servers, and not using proxies/TOR.

Also, if the source IP in question happens to be, say, a NAT address that serves 100 terminals in a public library, then you don't have much to go on.

Re:And simple to defeat? (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577895)

Or somebody copuld make intntional errors in somebeody's usual spelling habits and grammer.

Re:5% (4, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577619)

Of course, when you register to DarkWeb, you give your identity. Obviously, 5% of registered people didn't enter their real identity.
Now, the biggest problem is to get terrorists to register to and use that DarkWeb thingy. But with such a kewl name and a good advertising campaign, it shouldn't be too hard.

Re:5% (1)

aGuyNamedJoe (317081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577643)

My impression was that the 95% probability was that two postings were by the same author, not that they knew the identity of the author.

Say AnonymousCoward posts something clever on /. and then someone posts something similar on my blog and then on LemonOdor -- they immediately know it's some lisp geek doing it all and go see who's been trying to buy a Lisp Machine...

joe

Re:5% (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577807)

Perhaps it's not so much identifying the real identity of the individual, but rather the ability to identify a particular anonymous writer apart from a whole group of anonymous writers.

In other words: they may not know the real names, but they can identify all the anonymous posts made by the same person with 95% accuracy. That seems much more doable compared to divining a person's real identity from nothing more than a pile of anonymous data.
=Smidge=

Re:5% (5, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577861)

The worst thing is that for a search like this, 95% accuracy is TERRIBLE.

Let's say in 1,000,000 posters there are 20 secret terrorists. This system (assuming the 95% figure isn't just made up, and since it's a reliability figure coming from a government contractor - it is) will label 19 of the real terrorists as terrorists and *50,000* innocent internet users as terrorists. Since we already live in a world where being under government suspicion (but no charges) gets your assets frozen, phones tapped, and puts you on the no-fly list this is a BIG problem.

I go to a fairly international university. I've seen this 1984 B.S. shit on innocent people's jobs and educations first hand. As long as our elected representatives keep granting themselves and their officers these kinds of powers, we do not have the right to call ourselves the "land of the free."

Right now the US has in place a set of laws that would allow for an authoritarian (not-quite totalitarian, though if the press keeps dismantling itself, who knows) government. All it would take is the decision to enforce them to the letter; no consent from the voters would be needed.

Here's How (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577949)

The likely scenario is they have a "person of interest." One way or another, they have some correspondence from this person. (think search warrant, warrant for arrest, etc) Then they go backwards through the application and associate anonymous content to the person of interest. I don't see a logical way to go at it from the another direction.

What's so awful about the whole idea is the unlikely event the evidence, or the method used to collect it is ever scrutinized.

For those of you still convinced huntin' fer terrists from an arm chair is a good thing, please consider the following. Let's pretend Mrs. Clinton is the next president. She'll have the same powers as GWB. Is it still a good thing?

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578073)

It's like the great firewall of China: trying to make people believe the effectiveness. If this were true, they should have tracked down my identity by now becausing I'm posting as Anony!@#$#$NO CARRIER

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578209)

Haven't you heard? Starting next year, the IRS is adding an essay section to the 1040.

Re:5% (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577407)

So when they get it wrong, and the police storm my front door instead of my neighbors, will it still be "cool"?

I would hope that if your neighbors are terrorists, you would have already called them in. I wouldn't want a bomb maker living next door to me!

Re:5% (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577675)

I call the FBI about all of my neighbors, just in case. I recommend you do the same.

It's better to be safe than sorry; why, just the other day, I saw some guy walking suspiciously down the street. I'm not one to overreact, but this guy was just suspicious if you know what I mean. He looked like he came from the Middle East, had shifty eyes, the full shebang.

So I'm walking along and I see this guy. I almost kept going, minding my own business, but I thought about the danger this proud nation is in and I thought to myself, "If I don't do something, who will?"

And thank god I did.

I called 911 (blessed may that number always be in our hearts) and reported the likely perpetrator. I tailed him from a distance for a while, and my if he wasn't surprised when that officer pulled over next to him! You should have seen the look in his eyes, caught in the act!

So, long story short, turns out the police couldn't arrest him for anything (or he got off on some technicality, probably). I know one thing: he'll be more careful next time he decides to pull something. You've got me to thank for that.

Re:5% (4, Funny)

autocracy (192714) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577903)

Oh, awesome... thanks for making sure he'll be more careful at his nefarious deeds. You've done us all proud there, Scooter.

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577495)

I'll think it's cool since I think you're a prick

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577507)

Well if you had secured your wi-fi, your terrorist neighbor would have not used it to post messages.

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577547)

I'm sure that you'll think it's cool after two years of LSD, PCP, torture and no legal council in sight. That's assuming that they want you to think it's cool.

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577759)

Whoa, they give you LSD and PCP for free?

Any DJs want to meet me at Guantanamo? Bring LOTS of records...

(I'm going to hell for that)

Re:5% (2, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577567)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

So when they get it wrong, and the police storm my front door instead of my neighbors, will it still be "cool"?
5% error rate is too high to base any first-order data on. My assumption would be that they'll use this information to determine what online content to spend their time working on. For example, if the modern equivalent of Echelon tells us that a terrorist in Iraq makes frequent calls to someone who makes frequent, high-signal calls to someone in the U.S. and that person is identified as the potential author of several anonymous postings to various forums, then you spend a whole lot of time analyzing those postings to determine what information they might be passing on.

It's actually pretty obvious, and the only thing that surprises me is that it's being developed now. My only guess that makes sense, here, is that this is a replacement for older tech they're already using.

Re:5% (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577799)

Basically the news is that they can cast a wider net. As far as we know the government's capabilities for monitoring high profile targets have not changed, it just scales much better now.

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577569)

So when they get it wrong, and the police storm my front door instead of my neighbors, will it still be "cool"?

If I'm that neighbor, absolutely.

Re:5% (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577695)

It will be if you have the firepower to fight them off, kill them by the hundreds, and fight the resulting war against the government for some length of time before you are eradicated. And, the thousands of "innocent" civilians you kill? Fuggedaboudit: they chose to participate in this "democracy" and are therefore responsible for who they collectively elect. None of this denial of responsibility by hiding behind a secret ballot or losing candidate -- they support the system.

Why can you do this? Because your constitutional rights are violated. And the only way to effectively defend them is if everyone else is on your side. And the only way to ensure that is to make them the enemy of they are not.

Get it?

State violates your constitutional rights? You have the right to kill any of it's citizens that do not take your side against the state in response.

The "rub" here, of course, is that an independent court (remember when the branches of government were truely independent and this included the judiciary?) is the only legitimate determiner of whether you acted legally or illegally, so you better make sure before you start your private war.

But, ultimately, only the people can uphold the constitution, and sometimes they might have to do so unwillingly to save their own skins: "Kill that cop or I kill you... NOW!" does not strike me as an unreasonable way of effecting this.

Yes, this is an apalling scenario. But, governments use force all the time to butress questionable "law", and use questionable "law" to legitimize force. So, why does not the individual (a) make a point of responding in kind, (b) associate with other like minded folk? (Remember that bit about freedom of association?)

Re:5% (2, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578177)

(remember when the branches of government were truely independent and this included the judiciary?)

No and neither do you as that has never been the case. Checks and balances precludes true independence.

Re:5% (1)

non (130182) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577725)

this would appear to be based on latent semantic analysis. see the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] for some of the math. the group behind much of the work in this field are at U of Colorado. they have a site here [colorado.edu].

Bin Laden Found: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577751)

here [whitehouse.org].

Re:5% (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577889)

And the best part will be that, during your trial (if you even get one), when you try to defend against an algorithm basically being a witness testifying against you, you will not be allowed to know it since that would involve divulging "national security secrets."

I wonder how they'd implement the witness protection program for code?

Re:5% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577943)

Damned lousy searches... unless this damned thing is better than Google, I'll not worry (or worry more). Yesterday I recounted here about how the FBI, DEA (wearing a ski mask in July), and local cops terrorized me and two young ladies, thinking we were buying drugs (You can guess what I was doing...). [slashdot.org]

Now I can't find the post, either with slashdot's search or Google's advanced search (all the words "mcgrew police" exact phrase "ski mask" site slashdot.org"). I was also going to make a joke comment referencing a years-old K5 guy with the name "terrorists". Couldn't find that, either.

In fact, one promising Google hit about bars written by a bartender surely had this fellow posting, but searching for "terrorists" with IE's (I'm at work) "Edit Find" locked up the damned browser!

So to hell with it; I'll just link an old posting from my blog. [mcgrew.info]

-mcgrew

Re:5% (1)

iter8 (742854) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578069)

So when they get it wrong, and the police storm my front door instead of my neighbors, will it still be "cool"?
With 95% accuracy, 11.5 billion web pages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web#Statistics [wikipedia.org]) gives 575 million errors. If you assume, 1% of those web pages are anonymous, that's still over 5 million errors. It's a little hard to tell from TFA, what they mean by "accuracy" or how they came up with it, but some of those errors will be false positives. So don't worry, they will be so busy kicking down doors for those other false positives that it will be years before they get around to your door.

This could have been used... (4, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577355)

...to out Dan Lyons as "Fake Steve."

Other than that, I'm afraid this is the sort of technology that's only "cool" when it isn't being used on you.

Re:This could have been used... (1)

notclevernickname (1152517) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577827)

Well, imagine if they used Writeprint on /. Maybe they would detect that CowboyNeal is behind the terrorist plot to take over /. with pointless and stupid [slashdot.org] stories and send him to Gitmo for "reeducation"....

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577389)

They can tell that my name is Mark Foley?

Let's see if this REALLY works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577399)

GEORGE BUSH IS A POOPY HEAD!

Re:Let's see if this REALLY works... (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577513)

Not enough writing samples yet. It says:

25% Kerry
18% Gore
7% Osama
5% Hillary
45% 3rd grader Stevie Able of 1209 Mayburn St, Dallas, Tx

If you could post a few more messages please.

Re:Let's see if this REALLY works... (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578311)

Am I the only person to google map this address? There is no 1209 Mayburn St in Dallas.

However, I did find the following address:

1209 N Mayburn St
Dearborn, MI 48128

Okay, its official. I'm a dork.

Attention NSF (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577455)

Attention, NSF: Here's a better, cheaper solution - point all those @#$@#$%ing existing VIAGRA and mortgage spambots out there at these forums you're monitoring.

Either the terra'rists give up after the spamming, or they kill the spammers. Either way, we win.

F or A? (3, Insightful)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577481)

Change NSF to NSA, and the summary would make just as much sense...except "terrorist" would be defined as whatever the current politicians in power decide it to mean.

Space race, nuclear power, this kind of technology. Just goes to show, if you have a good idea, find a way to use it to further the war machine and political agendas and prepare to get buried in money. Can someone please figure out a way to weaponize a cure for cancer?

Re:F or A? (4, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577667)

Can someone please figure out a way to weaponize a cure for cancer?

You mean kind of like how there are now lots more skilled laser eye surgeons in the private sector competing to give you better prices for your business because once the military decided to back providing that service to its pilots, there was a giant leap in people being trained to do the work during their rotations?

As far as cancer: the military provides all kinds of basic medical research from which we all benefit. You'll see considerable military spending in epidemialogical studies, trauma treatment, etc. To the extent that, say, The Marine Corp is a weapon, the huge studies that can be conducted on the systematically collected health stats, DNA, etc., on a huge number of generally healthy people over several generations IS a part of all sorts of cancer (and other) studies.

Re:F or A? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577709)

Space race, nuclear power, this kind of technology. Just goes to show, if you have a good idea, find a way to use it to further the war machine and political agendas and prepare to get buried in money. Can someone please figure out a way to weaponize a cure for cancer?

1) Find a cure for cancer
2) Indiscriminantly irradiate the globe, giving everyone cancer
3) Distribute the cure only to card carrying citizens

There you go. Where do I get my money?

Another good tactic is to create diseases which, based on the existing habitual behavior of your group, you are unlikely to be at risk of catching, but which will propagate quickly through groups that oppose your agenda because of the way in which they live.

Don't even need a cure for that one, and co-incidentally, it catches subversive elements within your group too.

Who's the extremist on-line? (1, Redundant)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577489)

This is something the National Science Foundation and University should be ashamed of. This will used to spy on Americans (and others) and will have little to do with terrorism. I'm sure it will be salable to many corporations as well.

These jerks are the "extremists on line".

Re:Who's the extremist on-line? (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577597)

Ok I get the first part. Spying on our own citizen is bad, agreed, signed. Now can you explain why it is bad that it gets sold to corporations?

Also, they should not be ashamed of creating the technology, but ashamed of how it is used if it is wrong. That is like saying inventing the plane was bad because it would be used to fight wars. Bad example perhaps, but you get the idea.

"Spying" (2, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577813)

Since all this information is readily available to anyone one with internet access, I don't think it's reasonable to call it spying. Seriously, if you post information on a message board where anyone in the whole entire fucking wold can read it, maybe you should expect that government officials and corporations can look at it a well!!!

Re:"Spying" (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578361)


I don't think it's reasonable to call it spying.

You're right, it's not spying, it's surveillance.

That doesn't really make it any better, however.

remember... (2, Funny)

weopenlatest (748393) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577503)

...that the Bush administration's definition of 'terrorist' includes Democrats, pot smokers, vegetarians, and people with two arms and two legs.

Re:remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578205)

You may be closer to the mark that you might think. On the University of Arizona's AI Lab page on Dark Web Terrorism Research [arizona.edu], there's a section for the Dark Web Portal that says that 500,000 pages from 94 US domestic groups have been collected. I'm hard pressed to think of that many distinct terrorist groups that are operating in the US. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any mention of the criteria used to determine how a group is classified as being terrorist.

Re:remember... (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578455)

...that the Bush administration's definition of 'terrorist' includes Democrats, pot smokers, vegetarians, and people with two arms and two legs.
Then why was Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland branded a traitor?

creators badtolling evile since/until forever (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577537)

this 'terrorist enemy' thing was invented by hitler. the current dictatorship has, as with everything else, abused the term in increasingly phoney pr ?firm? talknician hypenosys 'style', until there's almost nothing left to disbelieve. talk about darkness?

better days ahead?

infactdead corepirate nazis still WAY off track
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, @09:35AM (#20433195)
it's only a matter of time/space/circumstance.

previous post:
mynuts won 'off t(r)opic'???
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, @10:22AM (#20411119)
eye gas you could call this 'weather'?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8004881114 [google.com] [google.com] [google.com] [google.com] 646406827 [google.com]

be careful, the whack(off)job in the next compartment may be a high RANKing corepirate nazi official.

previous post:
whoreabull corepirate nazi felons planning trips
(Score: mynuts won, robbIE's 'secret' censorship score)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, @12:13PM (#20072457)
in orbit perhaps? we wouldn't want to be within 500 miles of the naykid furor at this power point.

better days ahead?

as in payper liesense hypenosys stock markup FraUD felons are on their way out? what a revolutionary concept.

from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

Anonymous Cowards beware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577539)

Uh, oh... It looks like all of us Anonymous Cowards are busted.

Poor grammar and spudmum (1)

g4sy (694060) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577563)

"Many of these sites are produced in multiple languages and can be hidden within innocuous-looking Web sites."

Gah! Well whoever wrote this article is more of a computer scientist and less of a writer, because he/she obviously is good at using REDUNDANCY :(

"NSF-Funded" (2, Interesting)

Basilius (184226) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577585)

For those of us (like myself) that work closely with the banking industry, the phrase "NSF-Funded" produces quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.

Re:"NSF-Funded" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577715)

Why? At $35 dollars a pop in the USA, often applied recursively, producing record profits for banks, I'd think anything "NSF-Funded" would be rolling in the dough.

That reminds me: Time to switch to a credit union.

Anonymous? (1)

athdemo (1153305) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577609)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

Oh no, looks like 4chan's in trouble!

Re:Anonymous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578053)

Oh no, looks like 4chan's in trouble!

LOL u tk him 2 da bar|?

OMG! I am dead (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577635)

I should have known better than to cut and paste whole postings from the jihadi discussion fora to rebut them point by point. Now if that software can't tell from semantic structure, what I said and what I quoted, I can expect some visitors, look like. May be I will post in Slashdot and display some esoteric knowledge like the plural for forum is fora and may be that will throw a monkey's wrench into their Beysian filters. Ha ha ha.

Anonymous Cowards? (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577649)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release.
A way to track down the ACs who keep posting homoerotic rants and random trolls.

This tech could destroy Slashdot as we know it!

Anonymous content? Not anymore! (1)

Golgothaa86 (948550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577659)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release. Sorta defeats the purpose of "anonymous" doesn't it? This is a clearly an attack on websites that do anonymous posting like on imageboards. I love it when they pull out the "terrorist" or "Child Pornography" cards as the scapegoat for what their really trying to do.

Re:Anonymous content? Not anymore! (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578045)

Not if you read the article. The summary lied to you. You are still anonymous, they just know what other anonymous things you did. By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past.

Waste of time and money... (1)

bitRAKE (739786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577689)

They will only catch the ignorant. Spam filters can't even block all spam, and we are suppose to believe the web can be filtered to find terrorists. Please, stop with lame projects.

Re:Waste of time and money... (1)

grungeman (590547) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578461)

Even if they only catch the ignorant, you wouldn't believe how many ignorant people are out there who support the terrorists directly or indirectly. Catching the ignorant means derstoying the base of the terrorist elite (if such thing exists), so this is neither a waste of time nor a wast of money.

Busted! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20577783)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

Shit!

RTFA People (1, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577965)

By analyzing these certain features, it can determine with more than 95 percent accuracy if the author has produced other content in the past. How fucking hard is that to read? Seriously? Every comment right now is on some bullshit tangent about hunting people down or other such nonsense, or how its impossible to figure out who it is without blah blah fucking blah. What it DOES say is that they can take a large ammount of anonymous information and tie it together to a single player. Not that it gives the identity of that player, but that it can link all the things that player has done. So they are still an anonymous player, they just have their anonymous works attributed to them as an anonymous individual. Learn to fucking read people before jumping to insane conclusions.

The best thing this could do would be to tie a group of anonymous sources together as coming from one source and then hope and pray you can get enough matches between that pool from the single anonymous source to a single identified source. Let's not forget computers don't give a rats ass who they work for, so the door swings both ways on this one. It can be used to catch dissenters (bad for freedom), terrorists (good for safety), and government/media misinformation agents (good for freedom).

From teh swords-to-plowshared department... (1)

UninvitedCompany (709936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20577973)

Analysts are hopeful that the technology now able to identify terrorists with 95% accuracy by their word usage and sentence structure will be able to be repurposed to identify trolls and banned users with equal facility. Funding for the transition to peaceful uses is expected to come from CowboyNeal and the makers of UBBthreads.

Oh yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578015)

"...automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%..."

Well who created this?

My Name (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578147)

is Abdul. I come from kingdom far away and have inheriteed moneys. I give you $1,000,000 if you please give me bank account information...etc.

SPAM should be fun to sort out and/or any spammers on blog comment sections.

Aliens moment (2, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578159)

"The project relies on 'advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis [to] find, catalog and analyze extremist activities online."

Reminds me of something..."I'm ready, man, check it out. I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art! You do NOT wanna fuck with me. Check it out!...Independently targeting particle beam phalanx, VWAP! Fry half a city with this puppy! We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs! We got sonic, electronic ball-breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks..."

Constitution shredded even more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20578193)

Upon seeing activities of the our illustrious Imperialistic Cabal then it does not surpise me that this sort of program or the FBI's Carnivore program in use and the wiretapping with no judicial oversight our rights are shredded. "Those Who would trade liberty for security deserve neither"
so the
NSA can Byte me.

Che Guevarra

Computationally expensive beyond practicality (4, Interesting)

sdaemon (25357) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578217)

Sure you can crawl any information source and extrapolate anything you want out of it. I'd even be willing to believe the 95% accurate analysis, whatever. That's besides the point.

You can only extrapolate data you've read properly. The simplest of encryption and/or obfuscation schemes applied to this content would effectively protect against extrapolation. Sure, Big Brother can have software scrub the Net looking for suspicious content. But can they have software scrub the Net while applying decryption measures to everything found? While analyzing every image file for obfuscated content (or even something as simple as writing your terrorist plans on a piece of paper and scanning it in as an image)? While applying rot13 to every block of text found?

I would say no. The problem becomes computationally impossible at that point. There are theoretically infinite ways to hide, encrypt, or obfuscate data. To have a system check first for unhidden, unencrypted, un-obfuscated data, then also for each of those, is simply not doable unless one makes radical limitations to the format of the data itself.

I would say instead that this "Dark Web" will be invaluable in identifying characteristics of perfectly law-abiding forum posters, slashdotters, and so forth, and that the data gleaned will fetch a good price from directed marketeers, pharmaceutical companies, spammers, government bureaucracies, and other servants of the Dark Lord.

Like we didn't know (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578403)

"The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

On the face of it, this is not that different from Amazon's Statistically Improbably Phrases, which have been around for at least several years now. Every brain is unique, and it's not surprising that each brain creates writings with some sort of statistically identifiable "signature". Especially intelligent people, who have a larger vocabulary and pose more threat to a state because of their leadership potential.

Surely organizations like NSA, with orders of magnitude more money to throw at such problems, have something better and tuned to identifying anonymous authors.

Is this really such a big deal? (1)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578413)

The coolest part of the project is a tool called Writeprint, which 'automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating "anonymous" content' with an accuracy of 95%, according to the release."

It is my understanding that there are so many Arab dialects that an Algerian and Syrian have a better chance of understanding each other in a common second language than trying to under each other's local dialect. If the language is really that fragmented, that alone cuts down the search space enormously. I venture to say this is true of many older languages that developed with small quirks on different sides of the local mountain range. Throw in link analysis, cross-referenced content, etc., and this doesn't seem so extraordinary.

Web Pages? (2, Interesting)

stoicio (710327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578445)

I doubt that any self respecting terrorist is going to
expend resources making a web page that spiders can crawl.

Here's a hint:

Terrorist #1 sets up a WIFI home network with
limited external access and **no connection** to the
internet.

Non of the terrorists really want to know each other
since that would make them easier to find if one got caught.

All the other terrorists require is a GPS location relatively
close to the hot-spot. Not even the street address.

They park, or slow down,the car at the GPS coordinates, get some instructions
via WIFI ssh, and drive on.

How's a web spider going to find that?

The authorities would be better off looking for *extra powerful*
WIFI hot-spots.

Here's another hint:

Facsimile over dual channel FRS radio. Same as above
except the interchange is FAX.

Go get em boys!!!

The super awesome do-it-all tool been waiting for (2, Interesting)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20578453)

This Dark Web description sounds good, it even uses "semantic" technology but stop and think how little progress Google has made into the semantic web compared to what they want to do, contrasted with the talent they have hired. Considder the description of this NSF tool again. I predict there will be another /. posting in just over a year talking about how the project didn't quite work out as expected.
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