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U.S. Proposes Centralized Internet Surveillance 746

Posted by michael
from the one-NOC-to-rule-them-all dept.
Mr.Intel writes "The Times is reporting that President Bush is 'planning to propose requiring Internet service providers to help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users.' The recommendation is part of a report entitled 'The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace'. It is due to be published early next year."
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U.S. Proposes Centralized Internet Surveillance

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  • America.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by am_human2 (635209)
    Communism:
    IN SOVIET RUSSIA the Internet reads YOU for information.

    Capitalism:
    IN US of AMERICA the YOU re....

    Never mind....
  • My take (Score:5, Funny)

    by Queelix (635663) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:15AM (#4928973)
    I think this sounds like a great idea. Sincerely, Satan
    • Thanks, Bush! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:44AM (#4929147)
      I'd just like to take a moment to thank Bush and Ashcroft for their hard work in coming up with this plan. While I understand that it may not be popular among the slashdot crowd, I believe that it's neccessary in order to ensure our freedom.

      After all, nothing assures freedom like constant, unchecked surveillance.

    • Next Step: Doors! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@@@email...com> on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:45AM (#4929829)
      Doors often impede surveillance. Terrorists and criminals hide behind closed doors as they plot destruction, build bombs, sell drugs, plan murders. Think of how much safer you'll be after all of those irresponsible doors are removed, so that legitimate law enforcement can actively safeguard your freedoms without impediment.
  • Actually, my first thought was *shrug*. My second thought is "Go Freenet!".
    • My second thought is "Go Freenet!"

      Freenet will protect you against censorship, but I don't think it'll protect your privacy (your ISP knows your IP).
      • Re:First thought (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Apreche (239272)
        no, no it wont. That's why you combine it with PGP or other favorite encryption tool. It seems Bush knows I transferred a 640MB enmcrypted file last night. It must be an .iso, pirate!
        NSA spends lots of money decrypting it to reveal a looping video of me laughing at them, telling in Soviet Russia jokes, and http://www.dubyadubyadubya.com about 10 times.
      • Freenet will protect you against censorship, but I don't think it'll protect your privacy (your ISP knows your IP).
        Are you sure there is an easy way to find out who put a file on freenet? As far as I know one of Freenet's design goals is to make it impossible. I don't know how well did they meet that goal, though.
  • Bummer. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:18AM (#4928982) Homepage
    Well.. I'd write something critical of the plan here ... BUT THEY MIGHT BE LISTENING!
    • Re:Bummer. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pizpot (622748) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:26AM (#4929328)
      The more data the US gov gets, the more they slip. Remember, the snipers were stopped 5 times after shootings at roadblocks. See, data is worth sh*t if you don't use it. This plan is really for the lawyers, and those making money. That way they can have proof that pirating, kiddie porn and the like happened, or catching terrorists after the building already collapsed.
    • Re:Bummer. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by glesga_kiss (596639) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:08AM (#4929620)
      Well.. I'd write something critical of the plan here ... BUT THEY MIGHT BE LISTENING

      Funny, but also very insightful. Internet snooping completely destroys freedom of speech and democracy. Here's why:

      Imagine I don't like something that the government is doing. Our democratic and free society is supposed to allow me the right to criticise it. That's how democracy works, if the people have no say, then it's not democratic.

      Now, say that everything you say or do on the net is logged and tracked. Would you be so forward in voicing your opinion if you know it will single you out and appear on your permanent record? Of course not!

      What if that information was to prevent you getting a job or a visa at some point in the future? For example, I could criticise this drive for a war in Iraq. However, I now risk those thoughts becoming a part of my electronic persona. They could prevent me getting a Visa for the US, working for a US company, or working in any area of national security for my own country. They would single me out for special attention at airports as well as special attention being paid to my internet usage.

      All because I believe that starting this war is wrong? I'm sorry, but that's not the kind of world I want to live in. Sounds strangely like Orwell's vision to me...

      • Re:Bummer. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tshak (173364)
        In summary, privacy and free speech go hand in hand. Many people in America seem to be forgetting this simple but crucial fact.
      • by Interrobang (245315) on Friday December 20, 2002 @03:05PM (#4931329) Journal
        Yes, I said "nineteen fifty four," and not "nineteen eighty four."

        The phrase of the day is "chilling effect," brought to you by the letters H, U, A, and C.

        Or isn't anyone else thinking that TIA (and friends) is a little closer to the HUAC [upenn.edu] than Orwell's book? Just alias "Commies" to "terrorists," and it works just fine.

        I mean this new plot is like, well, imagine -- naah, hold on, I have to say it -- imagine a Beowulf Cluster of Joe McCarthys...

        ...and you've got it about right.
  • by fatgav (555629) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:18AM (#4928984) Homepage

    I am not a US citizen. If they are monitoring everything on the net, how would they know that I am British and not American. If they do build up a profile of foreign populations, does this classify as espionage?

    In my case, Blair sucks up to bush anyway, but what if I was chinese or something?

    • by Reziac (43301)
      I think you make a good point. Plus it works both ways:

      Here's a realworld example. Guy emails me from San Francisco. I'm in Los Angeles. For reasons that escape everyone, his email usually goes thru Singapore, where presumably anyone with the tools and the urge can read it.

      How would the U.S. gov't feel about other countries monitoring what is nominally U.S. traffic, but thru the mysteries of internet routing, didn't happen to stay within U.S. borders enroute? How does this differ from the U.S. monitoring say British or Chinese traffic that happened to get routed thru the U.S.??

      (Hint: There is no *logical* difference.)

  • by bugpit (588944) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:22AM (#4929007)
    This Wired article [wired.com] notes that states are rapidly passing legislation that locally prohibits much of the federal gov't activities outlined in the Patriot Act.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The states can't do anything about it. According to the US Constitution , Federal law always trumps state law. A direct quote from article VI of the constitution: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. " The civil war already settled the matter of federal supremecy over states rights.
      • I thought that the governors of the states could override (or do something legal :)) with a 3/4 majority vote via some organization of all the governors? Board of Governors? I just know that such a group exists; I have no idea how it interacts with the federal government.
        • I can see you flunked civics. There is a National Governors Association, but that is simply an unofficial talk shop for governors to get together to chew the fat and organize to lobby the feds for more goodies for the states. It has no legal existance as a part of government, and the state governors certainly have no right to overrule federal law, either individually or collectively. You may be badly misremembering the process of amending the Constitution, in which after an amendment is approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress (or two-thirds of a constitutional convention), it must be ratified by three-fourths of the state *legislatures* (or state conventions), not governors.

          Chris Mattern
      • The states rights issue has been a conservative agenda item for some time, it certainly was in the last presidential election. As this editorial [counterpunch.org] points out, there is a fundamental conflict in the positions being advanced by conservatives, you can't fight for states rights and also push federal legistation like the Patriot Act at the same time. Unless of course the voting public isn't bright enough to understand the contradiction.

    • by MacAndrew (463832) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:09AM (#4929632) Homepage
      The Civil War Reconstruction collapsed promptly, along with the federal military presence and really any effort to change conditions in the South. Segregatikon, Jim Crow, sharecropping, and so on followed propmtly and the federal gov't could not for decades develop consensus for even a federal anti-lynching law. States rights was the rejoinder

      But the civil rights movement did (mostly) clobber "states rights" to defy federal authority. This was the last defense of so-called nullification. Remember President Eisenhower sending in paratroopers to integrate Little Rock High School? Ike was not too jazzed about integration, but he was certain what he thought of defiance of the national government and courts. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned segregation in multiple forms down to a local joint called Ollie's Barbeque, which lost its appeal to the Supreme Court. What was new was the Supreme Court's recognition of broad federal powers under the 14th A. and the Commerce Clause, which it never would have done before th New Deal.

      The question here is whether states can impede legitimate (constitutional) federal law enforcement. The answer is (now) no. They have significance via the 10th A., and certain federal efforts to regulate have been deemed too intrusive, but the states are in no position to impose a stricter version of the 4th A. than the federal constitution already has.

      The obvious problem with authority is that it be easily used or abused. That's why we have democratic control of our gov't. The question to ask is, who arounbd you does support this sort of national surveillance of "other people" on the off chance it might avert another 9/11? I think there are quite a few. I'm sympathetic, too, except I don't think many realize how impractical, expensive, and damaging this could be, like certain other national defense measures we're looking at....
      • by ninewands (105734) on Friday December 20, 2002 @02:17PM (#4930889)
        Quoth the poster:
        The question here is whether states can impede legitimate (constitutional) federal law enforcement. The answer is (now) no.

        The local resolutions being passed by the cities do not instruct local law enforcement to impede federal law enforcement. They merely instruct local law enforcement not to ASSIST ... this is a different thing entirely.

        On the subject of "legitimate (constitutional) federal law enforcement" please explain to me WHERE in the constitution the federal government is given ANY police power. Is it in Article I? (The legislative branch) ... no ... is it in Article II? (The Executive Branch) ... no ... well, maybe it's in Article III (the Judiciary) ... well, no ... it's not there either. Well, gee, the FBI, BATF, Coast Guard, and Secret Service seem to LACK any Constitutional basis for existing beyond enforcement of laws enacted under the Commerce Clause or some OTHER area like counterfeiting where the federal government has a specific power to enforce a narrow set of laws. Get the message?? The Federal Government has NO general police power!

        They have significance via the 10th A., and certain federal efforts to regulate have been deemed too intrusive, but the states are in no position to impose a stricter version of the 4th A. than the federal constitution already has.

        Actually, you are wrong on that ... there are NUMEROUS cases in which the Supreme Court has held that the Federal standard for enforcement of the 4th Amendment is the MINIMUM standard the States may adopt. The States are perfectly free to be MORE protective of their citizens' rights than the federal standard, if they desire, but they CANNOT be LESS protective.

        Oh, yes ... IAA(non-practicing)L
    • by Reziac (43301)
      A little sideways to the topic, but see also http://www.librarian.net/technicality.html Perhaps ISPs could formulate and post similar "technically legal warning signs". Perhaps a calendar marking all the dates that the FBI did NOT inspect their network.

      IMO, there is little difference between libraries and the internet at large -- both are essentially public information access, merely via a different medium. What happens to one, be that surveillance, censorship, or other restrictions, sooner or later will happen to the other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:23AM (#4929010)
    REUTERS -- The Internet is planning to propose requiring the Bush administration to help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the White House, and, potentially, surveillance of its cabinet.

    The proposal is part of a final version of a report, "The National Strategy to Secure the Bush Administration," set for release early next year, according to several people who have been briefed on the report. It is a component of the effort to increase national security after the theft of the 2000 election.

    -- Hey, turnabout's fair play!
  • Guess who's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yo Grark (465041) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:23AM (#4929011)
    The RIAA, and MPAA will want to "watch" the internet through this network and nab any Tom dick and Harry who pass music files.

    Of course, independant music won't be distinguished in order to make thier stats look better "43 trillion music files were traded last year, and our revenue only increased by 2 billion. If we make each of those users pay every time they trade a file, we could make gazillion's (to quote jk) more. Of course we'd give 1 million to the governemnt for letting us use their network for our own commercial gain.

    Folks, the internet is dying because it became the true meaning of free speech, communication and information. Corporations are slowly killing the net, which requires Goverments to get their hands in on regulating things.

    I don't use the net as much as I did because of all the popups, spam and corporate cluelessness.

    If anyone knows of a protected Sub-net (encrypted, anonymous use) please let me know to restore my faith.

    Thank you.

    Yo Grark
    Canadian Bred with American Buttering
  • by jmcwork (564008) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:23AM (#4929012)
    Just read alt.terrorists.currentplans and that will keep you up to date. Do NOT get it confused with alt.binaries.terrorists.erotica or you will be really sorry.
  • The whole Internet? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:24AM (#4929023) Homepage
    This is looking at the whole Internet.

    Well, the Volkssicherheitsministerium will have a hard time to peek into, e.g. European research networks. It's unlikely that they would export flow data (or something else) to the U.S.
  • Isn't this already happening by virtue of Echelon [abovetopsecret.com]?

    --
    Phil
  • "Mr President, there seems to be a large flow in identical messages"

    "Ah, must be terrorist code. Let me see it"

    It says "Increase your penis size."

    or

    "Mr President, thousands of americans are visiting this web site every day, www.goatse.cx".....

  • Damn, if the Bush Administration want to look at porn, why don't they just do it themselves? Thats most of what they will see in the internet traffic...
    Instead they will view it via this ruse of "monitoring the internet".....uhhhh huh, sure you are *wink*
    Laura and Barbara Bush: "What are you boys doing in there?"
    The 2 Georges: "Maintaining national security! Don't come in!!!!"
  • Damned if you do... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Effugas (2378) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:30AM (#4929057) Homepage
    It's kind of sad.

    Bush administration makes alot of noise that they're doing something serious to deal with Internet Security, and *gasp* all they're up to is just cajoling private industry to get their act together. The slackers!

    A half year goes by, and again, more noise. This time they're doing something real -- central monitoring, accountability, mandatory support for legal interception, and *gasp* all they're up to is stealing control of private property to further their own nefarious goals. The nazis!

    I'm not sure what people want. I'm not sure what I want. The only thing I am sure of is we'll not be happy with whatever we get.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
    • Eh. Doubtful this will actually happen in any useful capacity anyway.

      But it is kinda funny how people believe that the US Government and its employees are at the same time frighteningly incompetent and stupid, but also evil masterminds of Illuminati proportions, depending on what's being discussed at the moment.
      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:38AM (#4929413) Homepage Journal
        But it is kinda funny how people believe that the US Government and its employees are at the same time frighteningly incompetent and stupid, but also evil masterminds of Illuminati proportions, depending on what's being discussed at the moment.

        They can be both at the same time.

        See, you're quite right that this won't happen in any useful way. But it can still do a lot of damage. It will do nothing to prevent terrorist attack -- but it will give assorted federal agencies and their corporate masters the power to make life hell for any individual Internet user they choose, for any reason, on the flimsiest of pretexes. That's pretty much what totalitarian governments do.

        You've heard the "At least he made the trains run on time" line about Mussolini? Interesting historical tidbit: a friend of mine whose grandfather lived in Italy at the time likes to tell the story his grandfather passed on to him, about that line ...

        The Fascist government didn't make the trains run on time. Italian trains under Mussolini were as unreliable as they had always been. BUT -- what they did do, was terrorize everyone into saying the trains ran on time.

        That's the world we're headed for. "At least W. made us secure from terrorist attack" -- and he won't, but we'll have to pretend he did.
    • A large part of the issue here is that US Goverment is OPENLY proposing that it monitors the communications of ALL people, not just its own citizens.

      What does George Bush claim gives him this right ?

      The only way this would be semi-valid would be if it was a proposal of the UN and maintained and monitored by an independent judiciary and analysis organisation.

      Or of course you could act like a total bigot and claim that everyone else in the world should be answerable to the US.

  • match all the ac postings to the users real ID (shudder)...
  • by haedesch (247543) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:33AM (#4929079) Homepage
    It's really disgusting how the US governement is abusing the 9/11 attacks to take away the rights of the US citizens. The victims must be spinning in their graves.
  • Something like this might be just what's needed to make non-geeks use things like Freenet and encryption. Or at least it'd be a good reason for it. Of course then Freenet might become illegal, with the resulting developments in steganography...

    I don't think that anything good will come out of this. Hopefully people will wake up before we all end living in a totalitarian state.
  • National? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gorthaur (155589)
    National... broad monitoring of the Internet... National... broad monitoring of the Internet...

    Is this yet another example of American Imperialism?

    In my country (somewhere in Europe, thanks to my forefathers) we have quite extensive privacy legislature; could I sue the US if they would gather data on me and if they refuse to remove it on my request?

    Sombody send Bush an AOL CD-ROM.

  • So instead of securing vulnerable and critical systems, we're going to monitor THE WHOLE INTERNET. Okay... That sounds like a plan...

    Setting the civil liberties nightmare aside for a second, and even assuming the terrorist threat to the computing infrastructure is real and justifies this level of response, this approach is just bad policy. This is yet another expression of our Cowboy President's locker-room-towel-snapping "let's go get them bad dudes" mentality. Any IT security professional will tell you this aproach is precisely backwards.
  • by spakka (606417)
    Why do we have a PlayStation2 controller for the 'Your Rights Online' icon? Bring back the harmonica guy! [slashdot.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do these people not understand that the Internet was purposefully designed to be de-centralized and redundant to avoid the loss of the entire network by failure in any given node? Funnelling all Internet connections through a centralized NOC makes systemwide failure possible. How does that increase "Homeland Security"? If you were a terrorist, cyber or otherwise, where would you focus your attention? Methinks that the *real* intention is for increased *cyber snooping*. Note the quote:

    "Tiffany Olson, the deputy chief of staff for the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, said yesterday that the proposal, which includes a national network operations center, was still in flux. She said the proposed methods did not necessarily require gathering data that would allow monitoring at an individual user level." [Emphasis added]

    Just another chip off the mantle of Lady Liberty.

  • I would believe that most companies can handle their own surveillance needs and if need be, contact authorities.

    It seems expensive, and probably not very efficient in stopping terror attacks. Perhaps the Federal government should consider issuing guidelines, just as they do for roads and railroads as to how a national ISPs network should be built for proper de-centralization so that a lights-out situation doesn't affect the whole nation?
  • Riggghhhhtttt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:40AM (#4929119)
    I run a small website for news and discusion. Last month I had 15,000 visits and served up over 500,000 pages.

    How many visits does slashdot get? How many page views? Ebay? MSNBC? Weatherchannel? Tom's Hardware?

    Does anyone here actually understand the magnitude of pages, sites, and information that they are proposing on watching and filtering?

    The number is mind boggling.

    We have folks comparing this to another step twords 1984. In readiong their comments, I wonder if they've even read the book?

    All this "surveillance" of the web will accomplish is a useless oversized database with statistics that will take people years to get a grasp on. It'll be a case of "too much information" that won't be easily collated - and hence , pretty useless.
    • by Eric Green (627) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:43AM (#4929816) Homepage
      You're assuming that it takes a human being to read all this info and detect "suspicious" transactions. Convicted felon John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness [epic.org] project aims to build a "smart system" that can detect "terrorist activity" in an automated fashion. Note that the definition of "terrorist activity" seems to be shifting over time... at one time, you were a "terrorist" if you killed people, now you are a "terrorist" if you are an attorney who provides a vigorous defense for an accused "terrorist" [truthout.com].

      Where does it all end? Do I get accused of being a terrorist because I believe that George W. Bush and his administration are a bunch of fascist criminals who are wiping their ass with the Bill of Rights -- and dare to publish said information? Am I "encouraging terrorism" and thus a "person of interest" for saying such?!

    • I've read 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twitter (104583) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:50AM (#4929881) Homepage Journal
      We have folks comparing this to another step twords 1984. In readiong their comments, I wonder if they've even read the book?

      The central thesis of 1984 was that people will abuse the power they have. Once technology was developed to monitor your thoughts, thoughts would be monitored and any thought that might detract loyalty from the government would be outlawed. The term was thoughtcrime and it was related to sexcrime. Any means to achieve this state, including bombing your own people would be used and perpetual warfare was required to motivate the people and waste their efforts. We are very much on the way here in the US.

      First, examine thoughtcrime. We already have laws against thoughts such as "hate crime" laws which gauge the intent of the criminal rather than actions and harm done. The federal government has long forbiden any group recieving federal funds from donating to "hate" groups. That's disturbing on it's own but much more so in a society where more than 1 in 4 $ of GDP are federal spending. Symbols are being outlawed, words and phrases are not far behind. These new monitoring plans are extensions of police "profiling" efforts and Carnivore. Now, thanks to Patriot and USA Act, domestic spying including inflitration of religious organizations, is legal. Illegal activities are being encouraged, with the understanding that it will lead to evidence that CAN be legaly used, and that is the spirit of these new laws. Today, your thoughts will get you monitored and blacklisted which involves a real loss of privalidge. Soon, those thoughts might get you raided and jailed. As the machinery of thought monitoring improves, more thoughts will become illegal. This new survailence system WILL be targeted, and hence very useful. Everybit as useful as the random checks of indviduals by two way televisions of 1984. The could be watching, so you have to behave, forever.

      Now examine what the government is willing to do to achieve the above violation or your rights and expansion of it's power. I have yet to see reasonable proof of exactly who was responsible for 9/11, and so have not put the CIA or Israeli secret police off my list. Ossama was trained and supplied by the CIA when the struggle was against the Soviets. Any institution that has gained since then is suspect. There is no end to the "war against terror" A war against individual criminals is not a war, it's a police action, but that will have to do for now. Soon enough, we can get ourselves into a shooting war. Orwell predicted that all the centers of culture would be wiped out in order to make the new perpetual oligarchical states. I hope the folks willing to trade a little freedom for a little security are not also willing to trade a little prosperity for a little order.

      And that is enough duckspeak for me today. File it, it will come in handy when The Book of rebelious thoughts is compiled to trap the disobedient. Oldthinkders unbellyfeel Ingsoc!

  • by DGolden (17848) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:41AM (#4929127) Homepage Journal
    I STRONGLY suggest people read The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose between Privacy and Freedom? [kithrup.com] before drawing conclusions about surveillance technologies

    Here's the publisher's blurb [perseuspublishing.com]:

    The Transparent Society
    Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom?

    In New York and Baltimore, police cameras scan public areas twenty-four hours a day. Huge commercial databases track you finances and sell that information to anyone willing to pay. Host sites on the World Wide Web record every page you view, and "smart" toll roads know where you drive. Every day, new technology nibbles at our privacy.Does that make you nervous?

    David Brin is worried, but not just about privacy. He fears that society will overreact to these technologies by restricting the flow of information, frantically enforcing a reign of secrecy. Such measures, he warns, won't really preserve our privacy. Governments, the wealthy, criminals, and the techno-elite will still find ways to watch us. But we'll have fewer ways to watch them. We'll lose the key to a free society: accountability.The Transparent Society is a call for "reciprocal transparency." If police cameras watch us, shouldn't we be able to watch police stations? If credit bureaus sell our data, shouldn't we know who buys it?

    Rather than cling to an illusion of anonymity-a historical anomaly, given our origins in close-knit villages-we should focus on guarding the most important forms of privacy and preserving mutual accountability. The biggest threat to our freedom, Brin warns, is that surveillance technology will be used by too few people, now by too many.A society of glass houses may seem too fragile. Fearing technology-aided crime, governments seek to restrict online anonymity; fearing technology-aided tyranny, citizens call for encrypting all data.

    Brins shows how, contrary to both approaches, windows offer us much better protection than walls; after all, the strongest deterrent against snooping has always been the fear of being spotted. Furthermore, Brin argues, Western culture now encourages eccentricity-we're programmed to rebel! That gives our society a natural protection against error and wrong-doing, like a body's immune system. But "social T-cells" need openness to spot trouble and get the word out.

    The Transparent Society is full of such provocative and far-reaching analysis.The inescapable rush of technology is forcing us to make new choices about how we want to live. This daring book reminds us that an open society is more robust and flexible than one where secrecy reigns. In an era of gnat-sized cameras, universal databases, and clothes-penetrating radar, it will be more vital than ever for us to be able to watch the watchers. With reciprocal transparency we can detect dangers early and expose wrong-doers. We can gauge the credibility of pundits and politicians. We can share technological advances and news. But all of these benefits depend on the free, two-way flow of information.

    In The Transparent Society, award-winning author David Brin details the startling argument that privacy, far from being a right, hampers the real foundation of a civil society: accountability. Using examples as disparate as security cameras in Scotland and Gay Pride events in Tucson, Brin shows that openness is far more liberating than secrecy and advocates for a society in which everyone (not just the government and not just the rich) could look over everyone else's shoulders.

    The biggest threat to our society, he warns, is that surveillance technology will be used by too few people not by too many.

    David Brin has a Ph.D. in physics, but is best known for his science fiction. His books include the New York Times bestseller The Uplift War, Hugo Award-winner Startide Rising, and The Postman. He lives in Encinitas, California.
    • by YeOldeGnurd (14524) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:55AM (#4929197) Homepage Journal
      If police cameras watch us, shouldn't we be able to watch police stations?
      Not in Portland OR, apparently. Prosecutors and politicians claimed the right to go through people's trash whenever the police wished to, without a warrant. The used the argument in court that anyone has the right to go through anyone else's trash. So two Willamette Week [wweek.com] reporters put that claim to the test by taking and analyzing the trash from the homes of the District Attorney, the Mayor, and the Chief of Police. It looks like the reporters will get arrested soon. You can read the story here [katu.com]

    • by g4dget (579145) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:21AM (#4929300)
      In Brin's vision, society is transparent to everybody. I think that may be an acceptable tradeoff: I'd be willing to trade my privacy if in return we all can finally know what's going on inside the government, military, corporations, police, etc.

      The real problem is one-sided transparency: if the government has all the knowledge, the government is all powerful: it can use its knowledge for blackmail, for constructing "secret evidence" to be used in trials, etc., and ordinary citizens have no way of fighting that.

      Take speed traps as an example. As long as the police does not release detailed information on who gets caught where and when, you can argue until you are blue in the face in front of a judge--if a policeman stands up and says you speeded, you will get convicted. If, on the other hand, all related data is available, you might well be able to prove that the policeman didn't calibrate the radar gun, that they are engaging in selective enforcement, that the speed limit at that location is deliberately too low, that the location is being used for "revenue enhancement", etc.

      The Bush administration is one of the most secretive governments we have had in a long time. People like Poindexter don't want transparency, they want a large differential in the amount of information available to the government and corporations vs. the amount of information available to individuals. And they want that as a means of control.

    • Screw reciprocity. I am 100% for surveiling those in government, although this will be more feasible for some than others.

      Realistically, it will have to be 100% blanket surveillance of those we chose to be effective - every letter, fax, night vision the bedroom - the whole deal. Congressmen, and the President, for instance, will make many claims that this is outrageous, etc. but only one class of such complaints really moves me, which is that "matters of national security," etc. prevent the publishing of such surveillance. To this I propose spot reviews by n (5-15?) randomly selected members of opposition political partie(s) for asserting that a) no crime occurred, and b) making an embargo on the data for n years (5? 25?).

      The accountability is long overdue, and they don't call it the public life for nothing. It sounds ridiculous at first, but it would work. It would drive a lot of the people you don't want out of politics virtually overnight. Public service in elected office (and I don't think just elected officials should be eligible for such a program) is a solemn duty with the heaviest responsibilities to the people. Both common logic and "reasonable suspicion" should compell us to take this step.

      But I see no reason why this requires "reciprocity" for private citizens.
  • What really gets me is that the governments (UK and US are equally bad with regards to this) think that because your online activity can be tracked it should be. They seem to think that 'digital rights' count for less than ordinary ones. Can you imagine the uproar if the government made everyone wear a GPS/mobile thing. That recorded every conversation you had and everywhere you went. That would be unacceptable to jo public so why should this be treated with any lesser contempt.
    The regulation of investigtory powers act (RIP act) in the uk is trying to achieve the same thing. But no one has worked out who is going to pay for it yet. I can imagine an 'online security' tax being added to my ISP bill. So I pay to be spied on. Great.
    How long do you think it will be before you have to show ID before you log on at an internet café
    In fact in today's news [bbc.co.uk] there is an article about the phone companies being flooded with request for information on mobile calls and locations. Half a million in a year. Over 1% of phone users in the UK would have been checked up.
    This will not stop terrorism, it will just mean that the terrorists will have to find some other way to communicate, or a more sneaky way of doing it online.
  • by oldstrat (87076) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:51AM (#4929174) Journal
    I've skimmed the entire proposal document and read the first third completely (killing a small forest by printing out the pdf document).

    I'm not going to cite details as I don't currently have the block of paper in front of me.
    However, I do feel I have to comment. This document is based in fear, not hope. It is not a workable proposition in the United States of America, but would have been very well accepted in the former East Germany or in almost any coldwar eastern block nation.

    Under the proposals all persons accessing information or making transactions electronically, or having transactions made for them, would be monitored, recorded and archived at all times for later retrieval under unstated conditions, by unstated persons, for vague purposes of security.
    Stalin would have loved it.
    The next step beyond this would be to outlaw any and all transactions that were deliberately masked to try and hide from the evesdroppers the origin, content, or time of the communication, because if you feel the need to hide, you must have something to hide, and you are assumed to be a criminal.

    I can't speak for everyone, but I do know that I felt safer on September 12th 2001 than I will on September 12th 2005 if all this continues.
  • We Can Stop This (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mithras the prophet (579978) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:51AM (#4929175) Homepage Journal
    The article notes that such a plan would require Congressional and regulatory approval.

    So with this on our radar, privacy advocates and reasonable-minded citizens can practice good ol' democracy, and stop this thing in its tracks.

    It's worked before (c.f. Clipper Chip), and can work again.
  • by quantum bit (225091) on Friday December 20, 2002 @09:52AM (#4929177) Journal
    I'm going to start e-mailing naked pictures of my ugly ass to known terrorists. Cruel and unusual? Maybe. But,

    1. Terrorists deserve the torture
    2. So does any asshat listening in
  • ... I'll point everyone again to a slightly unrealistic idea I had over 2 years ago:

    http://webpages.charter.net/ezahurak/idea.html

    But ya never know, it could work.

  • "The Times" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Grackle (570961)

    The Los Angeles Times? Seattle Times? London Times? High Times? ;-)

    It's good to remember that the New York Times, although a very good newspaper, isn't the only "Times" and that not everyone is fixated on the East Coast.

  • someone go and tell him he's already got Echelon running?
  • by Alethes (533985) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:09AM (#4929223)
    If I were genuinely concerned about being watched, this is what I'd do:

    The best way to prevent surveillance from interfering with your life is to make it useless information. One way to do this is by creating more noise data, which makes the signal data harder to retrieve.

    There is one really easy way to do this with the Internet particularly, and that is to create an application, which can be run voluntarily or propogated the same way Nimda and Melissa were. That running application would then spread random false alarms at such a high rate that nobody can keep up with them, thereby throwing the profile of a terrorist way off. This junk data can be trigger phrases from a dictionary, or it can just be faked PGP encrypted data from /dev/random, all of which would be sent to random IPs and ports, especially to nations that are considered hostile to the US.

    If you wanted to take that a step further and screw with Echelon, you could create a virus that gained control of various corporations' PBX servers, then randomly dial numbers in Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Everytime a connection is made, you could have an audio file play various trigger phrases, thereby adding noise to that medium.

    In the real world, the solution is to make yourself appear as a terrorist even if you're not. Check out "How to Build a Nuclear Weapon" and the Koran from your local library. Use your credit card to buy dual-use products that you need. If everyone is suspicious, then the data is useless.

    Now, the problem is, that I, as Joe American, can think of this, which means that the real terrorists can certainly think of even more effective ways to cripple surveillance tools. The sad part is that the government agencies still think that they are able to find a signal in complete white noise. The only people that are going to be effectively watched are the ones that don't need to be.
  • by Alethes (533985) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:13AM (#4929243)
    If I were genuinely concerned about being watched, this is what I'd do:

    The best way to prevent surveillance from interfering with your life is to make it useless information. One way to do this is by creating more noise data, which makes the signal data harder to retrieve.

    There is one really easy way to do this with the Internet particularly, and that is to create an application, which can be run voluntarily or
    propogated the same way Nimda and Melissa were. That running application would then spread random false alarms at such a high rate that nobody can
    keep up with them, thereby throwing the profile of a terrorist way off. This junk data can be trigger phrases from a dictionary, or it can just be faked PGP encrypted data from /dev/random, all of which would be sent to random IPs and ports, especially to nations that are considered hostile to the US.

    If you wanted to take that a step further and screw with Echelon, you could create a virus that gained control of various corporations' PBX
    servers, then randomly dial numbers in Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Everytime a connection is made, you could have an audio file play various
    trigger phrases, thereby adding noise to that medium.

    In the real world, the solution is to make yourself appear as a terrorist even if you're not. Check out "How to Build a Nuclear Weapon" and the
    Koran from your local library. Use your credit card to buy dual-use products that you need. If everyone is suspicious, then the data
    is useless.

    Now, the problem is, that I, as Joe American, can think of this, which means that the real terrorists can certainly think of even more effective ways to cripple surveillance tools. The sad part is that the government agencies still think that they are able to find a signal in complete white noise. The only people that are going to be effectively watched are the ones that don't need to be.
  • by div_2n (525075) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:15AM (#4929266)
    I think it took me a total of about 8 seconds to think of a workaround to network data gathering.

    Find an aspiring country that doesn't give a shit about President Bush beating his chest wanting data and set up a VPN tunnel through their network.

    Problem solved.

    It seems to me it is our responsibility as those in the know to inform those not in the know that stupid ideas like this are just that and nothing more.

    We did it with Circuit City and DivX. We can do it again.
  • The Times (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dusabre (176445) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:22AM (#4929304) Homepage
    The Times is printed in London. It's not called the London Times. It's not called the City Times. It's just called the Times. Now the New York Times may be referred to as the Times by some Americans, more cosmopolitan Americans and world wide slashdotters recognise it as NY Times, NYTimes or The New York Times.
  • FEAR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Canfield (548473) <slashdot@nOSpAm.chriscanfield.net> on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:33AM (#4929381) Homepage
    There was an artist last week who spread 28 large black boxes painted with the word FEAR around Grand Central Station in New York. It shut down the terminal for 5 hours.

    Bush et. al don't know what to do. The idea that disenfranchised individuals from a foreign nation might sacrifice themselves and find some domestic support for their cause has him baffled. Like anybody else when he is scared, he is doing anything he can think of, no matter how useless.

    Homeland security seemed draconiun, redundant, but understandable considering what the Army/Navy/AF/Marines have been doing over the past few years. Then unlimited detention without arrest, INS prisions, refusing entry for stage performers, a dangerous smallpox vaccination program, a symbolic war with IRAQ, threats against North Korea...

    Bush is scared, and helpless. He knows that the information was available to law enforcement before the attack, but he doesn't have enough finesse to understand that processing information is harder than gathering it. So, by the "Bigger is Better" American mentality, he is trying to fix America's intelligence agency by gathering tremendous amounts of basically irrelevant data. Not that this president sees the elegance of checks and balances: let's be honest, if he could get away with Ashcroft declaring him emperor, he would have done it a long time ago. But all that information and power will at some point be used wrongly. Not that it will be abused, but it will be used wrongly. History has proven that.

    It's funny, but if the terrorists were attempting to shread American values and traditions, thus making it an unliveable country and reducing it's power on a world stage, then they have succeeded. And by not reappearing and therefore presenting an elusive target, the service their cause even further.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions

    -C
  • On the bright side (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lonath (249354) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:48AM (#4929479)
    Since everything you write and create is copyrighed and since they'll have to outlaw encryption on transmissions across the Internet, they will have to make it illegal to encrypt copyrighted material. Should make the DMCA !circumvention provisions pretty moot WRT Internet downloads....

    (OK I know they'll set it up so the "little people" get fucked while "trusted" big businesses can do whatever they want, but at least I tried to present what is IMO the logical outcome of this...)
  • by Badgerman (19207) on Friday December 20, 2002 @10:54AM (#4929532)
    This is the same as the Total Information Awareness joke. Let me repeat my arguments:

    • This has to actually work. Good luck with that.
    • If somehow the information is collected, good luck going through it.
    • If despite these challenges something gets running, expect it to be some shuddering, misused Frankenstien. Enjoy the bumbling antics of the new Keystone Kops, using imperfectly collected and badly mined data.
    • This will create a nice, bureaucratic bottleneck that has all sorts of chances to screw up.
    • This will produce some nice central repositories and agencies - great targets for terrorist attacks.
    • This will annoy people even more, and it UTTERLY humiliates America in front of the world. The Bastion of Freedom, going to war with everyone for Freedom . . . spying on its own citizens.


    Fortunately when you live in the day where Bob Barr supports the ACLU, I don't think this'll get off the ground (or if it does, it'll be crippled or shot down shortly after).
  • Ping Home... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:02AM (#4929578)
    Aren't we jumping a bit far to assume this needs to monitor data?

    When I read the article, I see this as the ISPs being required to ping around their network, and then send those ping results back to governement servers in real time. This would be a burdensome hassle for the ISPs, but it wouldn't be any data that would compromise user privacy.

    And this data could be very effective... if Google can't be pinged, it's the first alert of a DOS attack on a vital piece of 'net infrastructure. If all of Los Angeles goes dark, this would be first notificaition that something's gone very wrong...
  • by Trinition (114758) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:05AM (#4929603) Homepage
    Yes, and the proof-of-concept for centralized internet monitoring is already underway in China. The Bush administratio has only to follow their lead, an we too will be on track to be as free as China one day!
  • by NeuroManson (214835) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:13AM (#4929653) Homepage
    Al Qaeda released a statement that they would be hiding all future communiques in spam, hoping after the 10,000,000th copy of "Enlarge Your Penis By 8 Inches!" spam, that anyone watching would inevitably lose interest.
  • by Xthlc (20317) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:34AM (#4929742)
    Whatever [pgpi.org] will [sourceforge.net] the terrorists [anonymizer.com]
    do [openssh.com]?

    Seriously though, the advent of projects like Freenet makes this legislation a complete farce. ANY subversive and violent organization who wants to communicate securely and confidentially over the Internet can do so, in a myriad number of ways, with a little bit of research, and have a fairly high chance of escaping detection by a Carnivore-type system.

    There's only two possible explanations for this bill: 1) Ignorance on the part of those drafting the legislation, and 2) Terrorism being used as a pretext to clamp down on other criminal activity that would otherwise be difficult to investigate and prosecute, due to Fourth Amendment restrictions.

    I don't know which explanation worries and frightens me more.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 20, 2002 @12:48PM (#4930258) Homepage
    Centralized wiretapping is already in place for voice phones. That controversy was lost in 1994, when the Commmunications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) [askcalea.net] was passed.

    Read through the technical specs [askcalea.net] for CALEA wiretaps. There have been some recent, wierd changes. Wiretap data used to be delivered over leased T1 lines, which at least meant that it was going to some well-defined place. Recently, dial-out wiretapping capability has been added to Nortel and Lucent switches, allowing the delivery of wiretapped calls to any phone.

  • This is not America. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Damon C. Richardson (913) on Friday December 20, 2002 @01:39PM (#4930687) Homepage
    First I'll address the intenet monitoring.

    YES IT CAN BE DONE!
    The internet is a very dangerous tool of the people. The working classes.... Untill not the digital divide and kept most of the concerns of our and other governments out of or even off the internet. You see ideas are more powerful then gun, missles, plains and tanks. Collectivly we have power. Divided we have a mess of opposing ideas. I believe it was richard nixon that first coined the phrase "The silent majority". He used this as a justification for trying to keep his office of president. The idea was that... Sure everyone was shouting for his removal but there was a "Slient Majority" that wanted him to stay in office. History has shown that this "Majority" was only 35% of the population.

    The Metaphor of War.

    When I was 17 I joined the Army. I did this because it has been a family tradition that I thought was valuable experiance. I was a patriot joining to help defend our way of life and to attest my belief in the constitution of the united states. This country has been defended by 4 generations of Richardsons. When you join the Army you are asked to give a oath to uphold the constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. I'm not making this up. So why does the powers that be want to remove personal freedoms?

    Does anyone remember when the War on Drugs was started against the American people? Well It never affected me. All the people in public housing that have to concent to searches going in and out of there homes. After all there was a "Majority" of people that believed in it right? The war on drugs is just a Metaphor! There is no real war going on except against the american people. All the shooting in south america and other drug producing countries are by rebels that actually might have a good reason to take up arms against their governments. I don't live there... I only know whats going on from what I read on the internet. Well years later we are still fighting the war on drugs. Low and behold searching people in public housing was not enough. We need roving check points on our borders. We need survalance of everyone. We go after people that in most cases are not even stronge enough to commit a violent crime. All in the name of keeping america safe from the drug crazed elements in our world. It's even created whole new types of corperations. Prison corperations that live off of a steady stream of bodies that need to be warehoused.

    Does anyone remember the first Metaphor war in this country. Correct me if I'm wronge but I believe it was "The War on Poverty" started by the carter adminstation. I have a personal belief that this war was not sexy enough for the republicans. Because we seemed to drop that pretty fast when the poor started to be viewed as Crazed Crack addicts. Now if we as a nation were going to take up a impossible war this is the one we should be fighting. I don't think anyone can disagree with this. But we don't... We funnel in millions to law enforcement to fight drug use in the form of locking up the users. Ask a cop if he feels good sending a 18 year old to jail for having drugs. I've known A+ students that served 10 years for drug charges. What service did we get from that. A really scary person that could have been something grand. I don't want dealers on the street and I DON'T want drugs legal.

    Which brings me to the War on Terrorism. Hey I'm all for protecting the country/world against bad guys. But let me ask this question.... If we stoped pouring resources into a failing drug war based on locking up the users. And instead turned to actually tighting up our borders couldn't we maybe get more truck, ships and planes searched for both drugs and weapons?

    Where is all this leading? Your focusing on a battle not the war. Your focusing on the symptoms not the root cause. You watch your government take more and more away from you and you sit in your homes and pretend that you are so aware that it makes you a better person. Well did you vote? you did? did you get someone that did not vote to vote? Did you write your congressman to show disaproval of the fact that they signed the Patriot act after only reading a 3 or 4 page summary? I know that NO ONE was there to say "Hey you can't search these people just because they live in public housing". And I bet no one will be there to stop this landslide that is taking over the nation. We need to be vocal with this failing form of government. It's not a democratecy if only 40% of the population votes.

    As a nation we need to find the root cause of this encrochment of our person rights and freedoms. I believe the root cause to be the lack of respect for the constitution by our government leaders. They will sit and tell you that for your safety we do these things.... They are lying! They do these things because the benefit the people that got them into office. The corperations and special interest groups. So when you whine about your posts to the everquest board shouldnt' be monitored your kidding you self. They can do what they want because even with the internet we are not ready to band together under the banner of freedom outlined in the constitution of the united states of america. So when they start replacing internet routers with computers that log ever packet. All to be gathered and processed by a government contractor that will be using your tax money to read your e-mail to mom. When the police get information on what pron movie you purchase with your credit card. When the army comes knocking on your door to recruit your 17 year old son because their records show that he can follow orders in his online games. Don't Panic. Because its all in the name of your protection.

    "Silence means security, Silence means approval". --REM

    P.S. spelling and grammer errors left in due to the fact that I really don't have the time to type this in the first place.

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