Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy The Internet United States Your Rights Online

DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme 256

Posted by timothy
from the weapons-related-program-activities dept.
Lifewish writes "The BBC is reporting that company MetaCarta is receiving DARPA cash to design a new system for tracking individuals based on their electronic presence. One company official is quoted as saying that 'The government and international security agencies have a desire to find, track and sometimes arrest people. Our system can be used to find them across the globe.' If you ever wondered where all that information the U.S. is collecting ended up..."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme

Comments Filter:
  • Ugly choices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:30AM (#8179295)
    Technology seems to throw solutions at us that are sometimes in search of a problem and sometimes present some serious ethical and moral challenges. I can see how this technology for tracking people could save lives by tracking down and stopping terrorists and maybe even finding children that have been kidnapped, etc. On the other hand, the abuse potential seems almost limitless.

    Happy Trails,

    Erick

    • Re:Ugly choices (Score:4, Interesting)

      by grungeman (590547) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:41AM (#8179387)
      Excactly. And we should consider that in order to convice people of how necessary these solutions are the government NEEDS terrorist threat. They need a problem that the solution can be applied on.

    • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

      by corebreech (469871) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:42AM (#8179398) Journal
      It's not going to help in tracking down kidnapped children, not unless the kidnapper lets them go to the mall to use their parents' VISA card or log on to check his/her mail.

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

      No, if anything, this system will actually increase the amount of criminal activity, whether terrorism or kidnapping, or crimes in between. It only serves to aggregrate power from the many onto the very few, which means more corruption and less representative government, which in turn means more disillusionment, apathy and frustration.
      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Insightful)

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

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

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

      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fireduck (197000) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:23AM (#8179680)
        And only stupid terrorists are likewise going to leave a trail of electronic crumbs to track. Yeah, you could argue that stupid terrorists are worth nabbing, but clearly whomever was responsible for 9/11 wasn't stupid, nor will the individual(s) responsible for the first nuclear detonation on American soil be stupid.

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

        Perhaps a better system could have stopped or blunted the events of 9/11. who knows...
        • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Interesting)

          by corebreech (469871)
          This presumes that the official government story is correct, which may be the case I suppose, but as FBI Director Robert Mueller himself pointed out, there is *no* evidence implicating these men in the attack.

          Not only that, a good number of the suspected 19 are still alive.

          The only evidence we really have is that video tape upon which Osama is purported to have confessed to the whole affair, but a closer examination reveals that a) he may not have confessed at all, and b) it almost certainly wan't Osama b
        • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Informative)

          by cluckshot (658931) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:29PM (#8181342)

          Actually you point out a curious fact and you didn't even know it. The enforcement mechanisms were present. The enforcers were busy chasing other objectives.

          The point is that such data is NEVER used for the stated purposes. It always gets used for other things. The stated purpose gets ignored indefinitely. I remember the USA on 2000 (New Years Eve) was worried to death about Al Qaeda terrorists. It demanded a 5 Billion supplemental to track them down and deal with them.

          On 9/11/2001 according to official testimony only 42 persons in FBI and CIA were even tracking the Al Qaeda types. $5 Billion leaves a slightly larger footprint than that. Bluntly they went on to something else with the money.

          Suspicion of the Government by the Citizens should be Axiomatic. It isn't Paranoia it is rational. Insane behavior would be to trust them. This isn't hostile it is just the nature of the beast.

          The DARPA work isn't hardly as advanced as might be thought. It is none-the-less a system which is engineered to do anything but deal with the terrorists. This is an excuse to avoid HUMINT and avoid listening to actual problems.

          The instances we see on TV of Children being recovered etc via Video Cameras etc are not Government Cameras. They are private Cameras. They were only used after a problem was discovered which is the only way such data should be used. The intrinsic problem with the Government maintaining this data is that it will be searched for "problems" rather than simply supporting the handling of a Known Problem. This goes to the heart of the US Constitution which says "No warrant shall issue without Probable Cause." To look mechanically and automatically for all "violations" finds accidents it does not find injuries. Such have no "Probable Cause" in them.

          The EU guys will not understand this as they have always lived in a society where you had to get permission to do anything. You had no real rights only permits. The founders of the USA so opposed such a concept that they ran it out of our land on a rail. The return of it is the return to what brought on the Dark Ages. (Something the EU guys might know a about)

          The actual failures in the 9/11 incidents involve the 20 or so times that the US Citizens confronted these guys and said here is a problem only to have the US Government Types ignore them. This is like the guy at the Crop Dusting Service calling the FBI about Arabic guys who wanted to know what was obviously terrorist uses for such aircraft. He reported it. They guys should by law have been busted and deported as "Undesirable Aliens." But then we had "Probable Cause" on them by this time and naturally the FBI doesn't pay attention to that. It isn't a Sting! It isn't High Tech. It isn't sexy. It is just doing your job! (Hint to the the FBI)

          DARPA is full of some really bright nice people but there are some of them who view technology as a substitute for actually dealing with PEOPLE. This is the problem. But then its a lot more fun to shoot people by remote control or catch them by computer than to admit somebody aught to pay attention and be expected to do their job. DARPA is generally a pretty good team.

          All we will get out of their infinite data system after the next attack is a really good record of what happened. Remember we have video of the 9/11 guys buying the box cutters. We have video of them getting on the plane. We have nearly a perfect record already. We even had a record of their trade and movements before hand. So when they bury you in your grave after the terrorist attack we will have billions of bits of data telling exactly how you died.... Nothing will have been done about the systematic disrespect of Citizens or Citizenship which had either been respected the attack would never have happened.

          The better system you talk about would consist of a respect of Citizenship and a demand for it. If we had done so at least 20 times prior to 9/11 the guys would have been out of here. Thinking that it is anythi

          • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @03:53PM (#8182171)
            The EU guys will not understand this as they have always lived in a society where you had to get permission to do anything. You had no real rights only permits. The founders of the USA so opposed such a concept that they ran it out of our land on a rail. The return of it is the return to what brought on the Dark Ages. (Something the EU guys might know a about)

            Why the snide comments about the EU? And what on earth makes you think that we don't understand the concepts of rights and freedoms?

            I find it deeply ironic that the United States, a country that prides itself on its Constitution and the rights of its citizens, is also the place where: you have giant corporations controlling your government and laughing at your legal system; you have the right to free speech, as long as you can afford the lawyers to defend it; the constitutional safeguards over copyright are being trampled by the aforementioned big corps; you hold hundreds of people indefinitely and without charge, based on an accusation and a technicality of international law that no-one else recognises; and you have a President of dubious mandate, taking your country to war supported by dubious intelligence, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocents, the destruction of a whole country's infrastructure, the deaths of numerous American servicemen and women, and did I mention some rather lucrative rebuilding contracts for major corps with whom your senior leadership has intimate ties?

            The UK government has become increasingly abusive of its authority, particularly since Tony Blair's lot came to power, with Jack Straw and then David Blunkett as Home Secretary. However, we can't even approach your level of legal impotence and government abuse, and you're busy trying to inflict it on the rest of the world! And at least at our general election next year, we'll have candidates to vote for who don't all say the same thing, which is as bad as who we've got at the moment anyway...

            You make a lot of good points in your post, and I agree with much of what you say, but with all due respect, you seem to have a serious lack of perspective on the world outside. For all our knowledge of the Dark Ages, as far as rights and responsibilities go, I'd still far prefer to be living in the EU than the US right now.

            • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

              by instarx (615765) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @06:43AM (#8187712)
              I am ashamed to say that as an American I have to agree with you. If you truly want to have freedom from government intrusion and heavy-handed abuse of your rights, you have to live somewhere other than the US. But not Britain, by the way. I still think the US is in the top 20% of countries where personal freedoms are important, but we no longer lead the world.

              Things I grew up with that I accepted as being a basic part of America are just no longer true, mainly that the government can't imprison you without a trial, you are always entitled to a lawyer, and the government has to actually charge you to imprison you, and the government cannot torture prisoners. The trend of the US government to detain people they don't like indefinately without charge by calling them Material Witnesses is an abomination in this so-called "Land of the Free".

              Don't even get me started on the self-serving legal maneuver of calling people (including US citizens) "enemy combatants" and giving them neither legal rights NOR rights as prisoners of war. Why doesn't this upset more Americans? I live in Manhattan and I really hate terrorsits, but these people need to be tried and punished using the democratic process.

              I used to be told that one of the things setting this country apart from dictatorships was that dictatorships could imprison people at will and would not even tell their families they had been taken - they just disappeared. Well, the US has its own "disappeards" now. Two years ago I saw a newscast of family members outside a Washington State Federal Detention facility holding signs with pictures of their son they thought was being held there. It turned out later that the government wanted to hold him but because there was absolutely no evidence he committed any crime he was being held indefinately and secretly under Material Witness laws. There are people in this country that have been in prison cells for years under Material Witness laws without access to the courts or legal counsel. This is AMERICA?

              Why did it not cause more alarm when this administration was seriously talking about suspending the Constitution after 9/11? Although cutting your own throat is a sure way to avoid cancer, the cure is worse than the disease. It is the same with the Bush administration and the extreme right-wing Cheney/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld ultra-nationalistic policies the Republican Party has turned to. What is most worrying is the willingness of the average American to accept this behavior by our government and to actually support it as Patriotic.

              To end on a more positive note, it is encouraging to see the Presidential candidates criticizing the current administration for trampling our Constitutional rights. That they are willing to do so indicates that there is a very large segment of the voting population that agrees that the right-wing Bush administration has gone too far.
      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drooling-dog (189103) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:43AM (#8179867)
        And only stupid terrorists are likewise going to leave a trail of electronic crumbs to track.

        Well, as you may recall, the 9/11 terrorists were behaving pretty obviously beforehand - learning to take off but not land, etc. - to the point where local FBI field agents were practically begging the home office to follow up. The top dogs in Quantico basically told them to shut the f__k up.

        Does this remind you of the Challenger disaster, where top managers repeatedly ignored warnings from the the engineers? The more data dredging they do, the more noise and false-alarms there will be. The top people - mostly political hacks, probably - won't want to be bothered, especially if the warnings distract them from their current pet projects and obsessions, or the particular axes they have to grind.

        This info will come in handy, however, when they want to go after particular individuals or groups, whether for legitimate or illegitimate reasons. During the Nixon administration, all it took to attract their emnity was to publicly oppose the Vietnam war or criticize the President. Now that we're being protected against "terrorism", we can expect things to get even worse.

      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rupert (28001) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:01PM (#8180018) Homepage Journal
        the individual(s) responsible for the first nuclear detonation on American soil

        That would be Robert Oppenheimer.
    • Tax payer's delight? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is that the same government we have elected? Is that what we want them to do with your tax dollars? Is that what we want?
      Am I the only one who thinks something went terribly wrong here?...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        We elected this government?
      • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:53AM (#8179952) Journal
        Is that the same government we have elected?

        No [multied.com]. It's the government elected by Electoral College, an obsolete instutution that hardly any democratic country uses these days. You - the voters - have elected Al Gore, who won the popular vote [bellatlantic.net], but he was turned down by the electors. First such occurence since 1888 and a MAJOR signal that America needs a significant upgrade of its voting system. Electoral College is sooo last century... no, not even that, it's actually sooo last century before the last century!
    • Re:Ugly choices (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Matrix272 (581458) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:16AM (#8179618)
      Technology seems to throw solutions at us that are sometimes in search of a problem and sometimes present some serious ethical and moral challenges.

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

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

      As you said, the abuse potential for this technology is almost limitless, especially given the PATRIOT Act, and similar legislation. It is for reasons like this that I don't trust the government... whether it's with my activities on the internet (which are completely legit, except the occasional MP3 download), my tax dollars (how much do you think THIS will cost? $20 billion seem like enough?), or just generally my freedom. I'm not advocating any political stance... I'm just saying that if we're scared of the government abusing a power that we give them, why do we continue to give them such power?
      • by Anixamander (448308) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:38AM (#8179818) Journal
        This may seem a touch off topic, but if you are interested in helping fix some of the problems introduced by the PATRIOT act, you should urge your congressperson to support the SAFE act. Details and an easy way to send a fax to your congressperson here [aclu.org]
      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MoneyT (548795)
        Part of this is very dependant on how the system is used. Example, does it active to trace a specific individual (and as such should fall under the jurisdiction of warrents) or is it passive, waiting to flag words (maybe assasinate, or kidde porn or whatever). If it's passive, how is it evaluated? Does it look for trends (i.e. one search for kiddie porn throws up a flag, but multiple searches over 6 months invites closer scrutiny). How is the information examined? Does it only look for specific catch words,
        • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Matrix272 (581458)
          The idea in and of itself is not evil, it's the implimentation that needs to be considered.

          I absolutely agree. My point was that the government is the one that's going to be implementing this, and at the moment, the government seems to take whatever they want from the people they're meant to govern... sometimes to the severe detriment of the concepts and principles that made this country great in the first place. Keep this in mind: The government is the only organization that has the power to use force t
      • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Insightful)

        by G-funk (22712)
        I'm just saying that if we're scared of the government abusing a power that we give them, why do we continue to give them such power?

        We don't. They're taking it from us, one teeny little reasonable-seeming, "won't somebody think of the chidlren" law at a time.
  • by Samuel Duncan (737527) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:33AM (#8179321) Journal
    don't have anything to worry.
    This will make our country more secure and safer from terrorism.
    Furthermore all American pariotic parties are joined in this effort to fight terrorism - even Howard Dean is supporting personal identification schemes.
    And remember we are at war - the war against terrorism. And in a war everybody has do to his share to ensure the victory of the forces of the free world. If that means that I have to give up some privacy, then I'll do my share gladly.
    At WWII we had to make much larger sacrifices to save the free world and democracy.
    • by Wun Hung Lo (702718)
      In World War II we were fighting nations with governments. There were central authorities that could be identified as leading these governments and it was easy to tell when they were defeated and the war was over. The war on terror CAN'T EVER BE WON. Terrorism has no central authority or borders. Anyone with a cause , a weapon and the will to use it can be a terrorist. Didn't you ever read George Orwell's 1984 where the country was in a never-ending war with an un-named enemy and if you questioned it you
    • "...the essence of the evil government is that it anticipates bad conduct on the part of its citizens. Any government which assumes that the population is going to do something evil has already lost its franchise to govern. The tacit contract between a governement and the people governed is that the government will trust the people and the people will trust the government. But once the government begins to mistrust the people it is governing, it loses its mandate to rule because it is no longer acting as a
    • by Potor (658520)
      You are either a troll, or completely naive.

      My bet is that you are a troll. Giving up privacy, even incrementally, has nothing to do with an increase in your security. To the contrary, it is to create a state in which the only thing protected is the state.

      The funny thing is that the more the state demands from your privacy, the more the state is apt to block access to information on the grounds of state-secrecy.

    • The problem with that premise is that it assumes law abiding citizens. In the current state of US law, both Federal and State, every citizen has broken at least one law. Whether it is something as minor as violating a Keep-Off-The-Grass sign, or speeding on the interstate, very probably 99% or the adult citizenry have violated at least one law. If you need reaffirmation of that, look at DumbLaws.com

      That is usually all the ammunition a corrupt government ever needs.

      As far as terrorism, the terrorist I am m
    • remember we are at war - the war against terrorism.

      We are also at war with freedom. Make no mistake about it, every move against terror that infringes on personal privacy and freedom is also a move against freedom.

      They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    • "don't have anything to worry.
      This will make our country more secure and safer from terrorism.
      Furthermore all American pariotic parties are joined in this effort to fight terrorism - even Howard Dean is supporting personal identification schemes.
      And remember we are at war - the war against terrorism. And in a war everybody has do to his share to ensure the victory of the forces of the free world. If that means that I have to give up some privacy, then I'll do my share gladly.
      At WWII we had to make much larg
    • The Constitution was written to limit the power of a central gov't. The people who wrote it believed that government with a lot of power could very easily be turned to ends which are bad for the people it governs. Checks and balances and the specific limitations on government (the 9th or 10th Amendment to the US Constitution) are written with this in mind - the power from a government comes from the people, and the government can't do certain things even if the people want it to. The threat of bad and ov
  • by andih8u (639841) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:33AM (#8179324)
    I don't really see how advantageous this system would be. They say it scans documents a user looks at to get references to geographic locations, but how effective can this be? "Hey, Osama, quit checking weather bug, you know the US has that new MetaCarta system." Normally an ISP is more than happy to hand over your info to the government, so what is this good for?
    • They say it scans documents a user looks at to get references to geographic locations

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

    • Try this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by binaryDigit (557647) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:57AM (#8179509)
      Really simple example. I send an email to my buddy saying "I'll meet you at the Burger Hut at 11:00am". Presumably, their software would identify "Burger Hut", look up it's address and be able to plot that on a map. If I sent another email at 12:45 to a buddy of mine, you could look at the ip I sent it from. If it's my work ip, then there is a reasonable probability that I'm at work (yes I know, telecomuting and other technologies doesn't make this 100%, but for many it's a damn close guess), so at 12:45, one can guess that I'm at the office. I use my CC at the grocery store, the location of the grocery store is then tracked.

      Put all these things together and you get a spatial picture of me. This is simply another way of looking at the data. From this you can more easily discern patterns. A more powerful example is if in another email I mentioned that I ate lunch with Osama, you could correlate the fact that I was at the burger hut around lunch time, and therefore there was a good possibility that Osama was there too.
  • Hrmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acehole (174372) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:34AM (#8179328) Homepage
    obviously the echelon project isnt enough or probably not suited for internet tracking.

    • You don't seriously think they'd only have one tracking system? Why only have one, when you can have two for twice the price?
  • no shit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SinaSa (709393) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:34AM (#8179332) Homepage
    The way I see it (just an opinion here), this is happening just because people let it.

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

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

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

    I don't think its irreversible, and it may be a lot of work, but maybe its time for U.S citizens (not to mention any other privacy beleaguered citizens) to take their privacy back, chunk by chunk?
    • Re:no shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:43AM (#8179405) Homepage
      that's because people the USA do NOT care. It's sad actually.

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

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

      Scary.
      • wtf?

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

        at that point, you can pay with cash just as easily as you can at the restaurant, but without the risk of being seen on CCTV cameras or mugged en route.
      • Re:no shit. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:08AM (#8179571) Journal
        What's Papa Johns gonna do?

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

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

        As for my address and phone number, there's this crazy database called a phone book that lists all of that information.
        • What's the difference if they don't start charging your credit card? What's the difference if YOU don't care that they sell your eating preferences.

          I CARE.

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

          Remember, the DNC lists only work when you haven't had an active relationship with a company. If you let them have your phone number they and their parent companies and their child c
        • Re:no shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:27PM (#8180791)
          How about knowing how many condoms somenone has bought in a month?

          How about figuring out that such someone usually buy condoms thursday late afternoon at a certain place?

          How about figuring out that that person also rents a hotel room in a closeby location every thursday afternoon?

          How about figuring out that he leaves work early on tursday afternoons and arrive home late?

          How about figuring out that a collegue of him does the same?

          How about if someone unscrupulous with access to this information threathens that he will denounce the love affair with the work collegue to said person's wife?

          What if that collegue was a man?

          Not to mention telling that person's boss?

          And all his work collegues?

          ...



          There's all sorts of socially frowned upon behaviours people don't want their work collegues or their family to know about. Sometimes not even about oneself but about one's family:

          Does one really wants that all his work colegues know he has pissed in his bed til 14?

          Or that his son was once arrested for drunk driving?

          Or that in a period of his life he was an alcoholic?

          Or maybe just telling one's cristian studies group exactly what one does on friday evenings (boose, woman and gambling)?

      • Re:no shit. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by XorNand (517466)
        Interesting you bring up pizza joints. Here's your tinfoil hat fact for today: There is a large datawarehousing company in the US that specializes in providing information to gov't agencies for forensic purposes. Since so many people have unlisted phone numbers nowadays, they purchase customer lists from pizza places (because almost everyone has ordered a pizza and the stores always ask for your phone number).
    • Re:no shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rm007 (616365) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:44AM (#8179414) Journal
      In places like Germany, privacy invasion is a much harder scheme to run with. People fight it tooth and nail.

      One of the differences between Europe (especially Germany) is that their views on such things as privacy have been formed in the context of direct recent (in terms of living memory of the politically active population of the past 50 years) experience of totalitarian government and/or occupation. Perhaps some Americans are more willing to trade off security for liberty because they can't conceive of what the loss of liberty means. If you let it go a bit at a time, you do not notice it. If it gets take away all at once, you do.
      • Re:no shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Noryungi (70322) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:17AM (#8179619) Homepage Journal
        One of the differences between Europe (especially Germany) is that their views on such things as privacy have been formed in the context of direct recent (in terms of living memory of the politically active population of the past 50 years) experience of totalitarian government and/or occupation.

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

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

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

          You are, of course, correct, and it must also be said that there is and remains a strong privacy constituency with memebers from across the political spectrum in the United States. That being said, as you allude to, they are not often listened to. I can't help but speculate that part of the problem is that not only does it never really become a big public issue in the US but also that political participation in the US keeps on decline. A more political
    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:05AM (#8179551)
      Since Germans don't have unlimited freedom of political expression, I wonder how many Americans would give up theirs and accept the yoke of censorship for privacy?

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

      I'm actually much more concerned about the government's ability and willingness to repress political speech than I am whether some database knows I bought a couple of cans of jock itch spray with my credit card.
      • "Justice Douglas, writing the opinion of the Court, asserted that the 'specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.' Thus, while privacy is nowhere mentioned, it is one of the values served and protected by the First Amendment, through its protection of associational rights, and by the Third, the Fourth, and the Fifth Amendments as well. The Justice recurred to the text of the Ninth Amendment, apparently to suppo
      • by lysium (644252) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:44AM (#8179880)
        "I'm actually much more concerned about the government's ability and willingness to repress political speech..."

        If I recall correctly, protesters in the US are corralled into tightly-secured pens, with ranks of riot police on all sides, helicopters\snipers lurking overhead, and undercover agents in the crowd around you. So technically, everyone is allowed to voice their dissent. But the rules are designed to discourage as many people as possible. Do you want to be penned, covertly photographed, and possibly get 'swept up' by being near the wrong people?

        We may have more freedom of political expression than, say, China, but that freedom depends upon anonymity -- or do people keep the curtain wide open when they vote? Does everyone make it a point to inform their employer of their political opinions (especially the unpopular ones)?

        " I'm more annoyed on a practical every day basis with the nosy neighbors than I am with US Bank's selling my credit card purchase information ..."

        You do not see the connection between 'nosy neighbors' and a nosy government? Astounding.

        =============

        • If I recall correctly, protesters in the US are corralled into tightly-secured pens, with ranks of riot police on all sides, helicopters\snipers lurking overhead, and undercover agents in the crowd around you. So technically, everyone is allowed to voice their dissent. But the rules are designed to discourage as many people as possible. Do you want to be penned, covertly photographed, and possibly get 'swept up' by being near the wrong people?

          This only happens at extremely high profile events or events
      • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:51PM (#8180469)
        Protection of privacy and right to free speech go hand in hand. Society is reaching the point where you wont have privacy, and won't leave an electronic trail when you buy the jock itch spray unless you:

        - carry around lots of cash
        - use cash to buy everything
        - minimize the trail you leave when you get fresh cash
        - don't fly
        - don't use the Internet
        - don't use electonic toll paying devices
        - don't use a cell phone
        - etc.

        Of course, this makes you a Luddite and it makes it vastly harder for you to function and to speak out against your government's evil tendencies. This is, of course one of the goals.

        Now, if you still leave an electronic trail, and still exercise your right to free speech and say or do something that pisses off a government with an established tendency to punish critics, like the Bush administration (Remember Wilson and his CIA wife), they can then use your electronic trail to punish you in a variety of ways:

        A. Find you to arrest you
        B. Detect associations with other people that may be terrorism suspects, rightly or wrongly. As I recall the Canadian programmer that was sent to Syria for a year of torture was mostly guilty of co-signing a lease for someone who was tenuosly linked to terrorism.
        C. Study your internet porn viewing habits including those blind links taking you places you really didn't want to go so they can arrest you for child porn.
        D. Detecting that you failed to report a little side income on your tax returns so they can arrest you for tax evasion.
        E. Find ways to get you fired and make you unemployable. Arresting protesters and tagging them with minor convictions or any other means to put a conviction on your record will work. Since 9/11 a myriad of companies have started doing extensive background checks and a record will make you vastly less employable. Making you unemployable in a capitalist economy is the kinder, gentler counterpart to the gulag's in the totalitarian state. You can end up starving with either approach. Taken to the extreme you end up homeless and you die without so much as a second thought from society.

        The U.S. approach is much more clever and subtle than the Chinese approach. The Chinese use heavy handed censorship and arrest people directly for doing things like advocating democracy. It doesn't work real well and it triggers outrage.

        The U.S. uses an approach that doesn't look totalitarian on the face of it, but can accomplish many of the same goals in suppressing dissent. They can arrest people for terrorism, child pornography or tax evasion instead of arresting them for exercising free speech and dissenting. The American public will never have a problem with arresting people for the former but would howl if it were for the latter.

        Just look at the case of Captain Yee and a couple Muslim friends at Guantanamo.

        http://www.counterpunch.org/wright02022004.html

        Yee was put in solitary confinement, charged with espionage, and was facing a death penalty case. All indications are their main crime was they were Muslim, spoke Arabic and had some sympathy for the horrible plight of the people thrown in to Camp X-Ray without charges or legal process. The Christian, non arabic speaking soldiers around them apparently decided to crucify them for it.

        The DOD eventually realized they had no case and they weren't guilty of anything except being Muslim and being surrounded by a bunch of American soldiers that didn't like the fact they could speak Arabic and wanted to easy the misery of "suspected" terrorists.

        Last I heard Yee is now being charged with using a military computer to look at porn and adultery and is still facing a long term in Federal prison. His life is destroyed. If you charge all guilty soldiers for these things half the military would be in the brig.

        Yee is in the military which means he has less rights than most, but he is a really good example of what might happen to you too if you let your government run amuck. Of course, its even more likely to happen to you if you try to keep your government from running amuck. This is Catch-23.
  • by shoppa (464619) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:35AM (#8179337)
    Others get worried by all these government contractors who are making big bucks by selling privacy-invading tools to Uncle Sam.

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

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

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

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


      This means that 5% is not a failure and it will be 'Usefull' for the governement. If the tool is there to invade the privacy, it will only take time before it will be abused. At this moment it will be used to find the guilty. At some point it will be used to find
      • I personaly do not mind so much the money that is wasted. If done correctly, it flows back into the economy.

        It may flow back into the economy later, but that doesn't help ME when they take 30% of my paycheck, that I work very hard for. In fact, there's a VERY good chance I'll never see a penny of that money again, since it "flowed back" into someone else's pocket.
    • A lot of these new programs aren't actually operated by the government. That's because the government isn't allowed to do some of these things by law. They hire private companies because private companies can do whatever the hell they want. This isn't the only company working on projects that are similar to this. Slashdot's headlines since TIA went down in flames are full of them.

      The things is, this is nothing new. I had seen proposals for commercial versions of this for a long time. Cell phones th

    • Having worked as a contractor for a government agency, I can tell you that the people behind the wheel more than likely won't be the sharpest knives in the drawer. One woman I worked with, her whole job for the entire day was to burn 6 cds. Other people just outright slept most of the day. Sure they may have some great new system, but the bottleneck will be that person that has to burn a backup cd of the data before its passed along to intelligence...at 6 cds a day.
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:37AM (#8179353) Homepage Journal
    And we know you have been posting on Slashdot way too much.

    Go back to work, you slacker. If you post too much on Slashdot, the terrorists will win!
    --
    This post has been brought to you by CitizenWatch(tm) a division of DARPA / Homeland Security.
    "We watch because we care" (tm & sm).
  • Tinfoil hat time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:38AM (#8179365) Journal
    Our society as a whole is allowing this infringment upon us. There is nobody to blame but ourselves. This attack on our freedom is pushed by the people that scream "what about the children" in attempts to save us from ourselves. If there was a big enough uproar about this happening it could be stopped, but unfortunately anybody that stands up to this is shouted down with threats of wanting to aid terrorists and kill babies and such. The old adage comes to mind, the way for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

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

  • by kemapa (733992) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:38AM (#8179368) Journal
    Criminals would just find a way around the whole system, while honest people would be the ones tracked. Just like guns... if you create a law eliminating guns the criminals will still get them illegally, while regular citizens won't.
    • The first thing I thought of when I saw this is "wow - the Bad Guys could have a field day with this". Imagine - you find yourself on the wrong end of a PI or something, you have skills, you turn the tables and hunt this guy instead. Somebody gaining a level of control with this type of system would pose an unprecendted threat (on the offchance the stupid thing acutally worked).

      Better yet, Kevin Mitnick's "two computer" scheme came to mind where he was intentionally leading his pursuers at the FBI around

    • by ratamacue (593855) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:36AM (#8179802)
      That is exactly why England's murder and violent crime rates have skyrocketed since the 1997 gun ban: (1) Criminals will always be able to obtain weapons, no matter what the law says, and (2) for the criminal, the ideal victim is the one who is unarmed or has no means of self-defense.

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

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

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

  • Use of technology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canfirman (697952) <pdavi25@NOSPAM.yahoo.ca> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:40AM (#8179381)
    There are a few quotes from the article that are of interest:

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

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

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

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

    • by kinnell (607819)
      this software will do more harm than good

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

    • Re:Use of technology (Score:2, Interesting)

      by supersam (466783)
      PS: Since September 11, US security agencies have increasingly turned to technology to help them process website postings, internet chat and e-mail traffic....and still no sign of Osama Bin Laden.

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

      I dunno who's the more naive of the lot...
      Government - for thinking that it can catch the Osamas of this world by developing such softwares...
      or the Public - for th
  • by Epyn (589398) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:40AM (#8179382)
    I'd like to think I'm not paranoid and such. But I've recently lost significant faith in the prosecution of real criminals in the states, there've been a few scapegoats of late. I just don't see WHY they would use this without abusing it. 'They', being the scary government and such, have been very self-serving lately. /me points to the spam bill, which is almost helpful for everyday email users.
  • by adagioforstrings (192285) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:41AM (#8179388)
    I got a copy of their program in my mailbox!!

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

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

    Enjoy.

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

    Your friend,
    MetaCarta & DARPA
  • by Thunderstruck (210399) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:44AM (#8179407)
    I'm not worried about being tracked with such a system here at home for two reasons. I usually use cash and I have PGP encryption for my emails. But then again, I live in South Dakota and everyone always knows where everyone else is anyway so the point is moot.

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

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

      --RJ
  • by DangerSteel (749051) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:45AM (#8179425)
    Not trying to be too cynical here, but let's be realistic... I can't count the number of criminals I read about who police caught and had prior warrants for thier arrest, but they have never checked thier last known address. Getting another database of that information will somehow help?
  • by savagedome (742194) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:47AM (#8179441)
    So, now we would finally know where our Nigerian Spammer friend [ntlworld.com] actually is.
    I am going to forward MetaCarta guys a copy of my 419 Nigerian email right away. Brilliant!

  • by NixLuver (693391) <stwhite&kcheretic,com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:51AM (#8179471) Homepage Journal
    As someone pointed out in a post yesterday, privacy of information is becoming endangered, and there is nothing we can do to stop that from happening short of becoming Luddites - all of us - and adopting 'less than appropriate technology'.

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

  • well, i just RTFA.

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

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

      Hello dave, i'm going to see my aunt in florida next week, so i'll look forward to meeting you...
      -
      append a handwritten image of your actual message with alot of noise (junk, say a picture of a cat or a car or something) in the background. Heh, atleast my scanner text-recognition can't read it =P
  • by hey (83763) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:11AM (#8179583) Journal
    We're all under house arrest now.
  • Apathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:13AM (#8179603) Journal
    The problem is that you have to work very hard at freedom and democracy et al. The natural ground state for human society is totalitarian dictatorship, and free and open societies are really exceptional cases.

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

    Expect more of these schemes to come into action with the majority of the public either not caring (path of least resistance) or just accepting (safety over freedom) the changes. If we want to make sure these schemes don't keep adding up, bit by bit, be prepared for an uphill struggle.
  • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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

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

      RTFWW. Read the fucking Weasel Word.

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

      Nowhere does it say the people have any say in defining what

  • Bleh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:17AM (#8179620) Journal
    You can't stop people from gathering information. If I want to get out a spiral notebook and a pencil and start writing down every liscense plate number I see and descriptions of the drivers, I can.

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

    Like the Do Not Call list. I was bombarded with telemarketers before it went into affect (you need only buy a home to get every mortgage agent in the universe to start calling). Now they've completely stopped. Do I care that people can go find out how much I owe on my mortgage? Not really.
  • Outsourcing (Score:3, Funny)

    by somethinghollow (530478) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:20AM (#8179647) Homepage Journal
    Why didn't they just give DoubleClick the bid? They already seem to have the tracking thing down.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:23AM (#8179677) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

  • Bush Economy II (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Quantum-Sci (732727)
    a new system for tracking individuals based on their electronic presence.

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

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

    {foil hat}
    This in mind, I offer a deeply cynical view of

  • The U.S. government has secret agencies. Their funding is secret, their objectives are secret, and their methods are secret. The CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and other agencies whose names are secret operate everywhere in the world. They interfere with the politics of other countries. They sometimes arrange to kill leaders or destroy property.

    The secrecy began in the 1940s when oil companies asked the British and U.S. governments to protect their interests. The countries in which they operated began claiming the oil and oil facilities for themselves. On the one hand, it is easy to see that the oil companies did not like their property taken from them without sufficient payment. On the other hand, the oil companies were paying very little for the oil, so the countries felt robbed.

    The U.S. and British governments began trying to help the U.S. and British oil companies by operating in secret. For example, the U.S. government's CIA agency overthrew a democratically elected president in Iran. The U.S. government supported a violent government instead, that of the Shah of Iran. Years later, Iranians objected, and the Iranian government began terrorist activities as a way of retaliating against continued secret U.S. government operations in Iran.

    The present terrorism against the U.S. people is the result of the U.S. government's secret violence. About a year ago, I hastily put together a short, incomplete history that shows what happened: History surrounding the U.S. war with Iraq: Four short stories [futurepower.net].

    Those who work for the U.S. government's secret agencies have a huge conflict of interest. If they cause trouble, or if they find some trouble and help make it bigger, they are promoted. If they help assure that everyone lives together in peace, they become less important, and some lose their jobs. So there is a terrific pressure for them to cause trouble.

    Democracy is founded on openness. If a government can do things without the approval or even the knowledge of its people, it is not a democracy. Therefore the secret side of the U.S. government has, in part, overthrown the real U.S. government.

    How corrupt is the U.S. government? Here's just one example: Mr. Dick Cheney, who is now vice-president of the U.S., was once head of an oil company called Halliburton. Mr. Cheney went into the U.S. defense department, and while there, arranged that secretly awarding contracts would no longer be illegal. Later it was arranged that Halliburton would secretly get a contract for work in Iraq. Then the U.S. government invaded Iraq, with no reason, as we are now seeing.

    It's important to understand that oil companies do not want the oil. They want the oil profits. The U.S. government's war in Iraq has allowed U.S. companies to get Iraq oil profits. Before, the oil profits went to Iraqis. The amount of oil coming from Iraq to the world has remained somewhat the same.

    Anyone who reads this should understand that there may be inaccuracies due to the fact that secret government agencies are sometimes able to keep their operations secret, or are able to mislead the public about what they have done. The information here has been reported many times by many well-respected news agencies, and is believed completely accurate.
  • Losing privacy is not the problem. Having the data linked to individuals is the problem. Law makers need to know what their voters want.

    I think anonymous stats could help to free us, but I fear [slashdot.org] data being linked to small groups like individuals.

    A good example [slashdot.org] of anonymous stats is when anthropologists ask about your drinking habits and then go to the local dump to confirm the results....that you drink a ton.

    The trick is to keep it anonymous, but those types of stats can show law makers what their voter
  • by mjh (57755) <mark@NOspaM.hornclan.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:57AM (#8179978) Homepage Journal
    I don't mean to enrage the slashdotistas, but I find myself wondering why I should care about this. I don't personally view anonymity on the Internet as a right. It's nice and convenient sometimes, but not a right. So, it means that I have to be careful about the things that I do on the Internet. If I do something that makes me a target of a criminal investigation, isn't it a good thing to be able to track me?

    Of course, there's a limit to this. Law enforcement should not be able to track anyone for any reason. They should only track those for whom they have sufficient cause. But that's true in the non-cyber world, too. In the non-cyber world, if you do something that provides justification for tracking, you have no right to anonymity. Ted Kaczynski did not have a right to anonymity after he started planting bombs. Just because Ted Kaczynski gets tracked doesn't mean that everyone should be tracked. But at the same time, just because there are limits on who to track doesn't mean that we shouldn't track Ted Kaczynski.

    So my question is this: how is the internet different? Shouldn't law enforcement be able to track criminals on the internet? If controls can be put in place to prevent tracking anyone for any reason, shouldn't we encourage being able to track suspected criminals?
    • Shouldn't law enforcement be able to track criminals on the internet?

      Sure they should. Now define 'criminal' for me. Before you do, I can confidently state that what you consider criminal and what I consider criminal are going to be different; which one of us gets to make the determination?

      Would you consider Dr. Martin Luther King & associates criminal? He was viewed as one by people in law enforcement, and was closely monitored. Do you see what the real problem is, yet?

      ================

  • Finally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by rm -rf /etc/* (20237) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:09PM (#8180077) Homepage
    Now Bill Gates really will give me $100 for forwarding the email!
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:13PM (#8180121) Homepage
    Somewhere L. Ron Hubbard screams with laughter in the bowels of Heck.

    Scientology rejoices today. There will be no way they do not obtain access to this tracking system.

    I'm sure Reverend Moon (R-God on Earth), good friend of Bush, and owner of the Washington Times, will also receive his TrackYourEnemiesOnline! account userid and password at the same time the Doublecrossers will.

    How would this system have stopped 40 men with boxcutters from crashing those planes?

    This is a dream system for crushing dissidents. That's all it is.
  • by NtroP (649992) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:25PM (#8180240)
    It will start with being able to "find the guilty", people who already have a warrant for their arrest out for "crimes" discovered via other means.

    But soon it will be used for trolling in general for anyone who "does something bad" online.

    Let me ask you this:

    • Have you ever read or downloaded any of those "survivalist" texts or "handbooks"?
    • Have you, for any reason, ever stumbled accross Pr0n with participants of questionable age?
    • Have you ever downloaded a krack or SN generator?
    • Have you ever checked out those "virus creation programs"?
    • Have you ever been pissed about something the "gubmint" did and perhaps "overstated" what you'd like to do about it online?
    • Have you ever gotten a virus or malware on you box that started opening websites you never asked for?
    • Have you ever [insert anything, which might become illegal in the future] online?
    Although I'm a SysAdmin now, I've spent a good part of my youth "looking under rocks" on the internet out of [morbid?] curiosity. Some of it could be construed as "illegal" behavior - although I have never intentionally broken the law with any of the "knowledge" I've gotten from it.

    If the Feds were to troll for my "surfing" habits, I'll bet I could be put on a watch list right now. Currently there are things like court orders limiting what can be gleaned and what can be done with the data once collected, but these checks and balances are quickly drying up.

    For those who are quick to reach for their tin-foil hats (mine's right here) check out some fun, time-killin' reading [johntitor.com]. Errosion of privacy is one of his top points...

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

Working...