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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..."
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DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme

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  • 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

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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?
  • 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 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.

  • by edbarrett (150317) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:54AM (#8179482)
    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.

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

    by supersam (466783) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:59AM (#8179519) Homepage
    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 thinking that the law-abiding citizens don't have anything to worry about these anti-privacy initiatives...
  • Tax payer's delight? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:59AM (#8179521)
    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 bigjnsa500 (575392) <bigjnsa500&yahoo,com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:12AM (#8179591) Homepage Journal
    Now I am not agreeing either that I want Big Brother watching my every move. I just don't see how we can have both the government checking out people/groups whoever, AND the same privacy we had post 9-11.

    In the end, I believe the terrorists did win. We are now forced to slowly move towards Big Brother. We have to rethink our open, free borders.

  • 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 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.

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

    by XorNand (517466) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:34AM (#8179791)
    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).
  • 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!
  • by baneblackblade (682424) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:56AM (#8179975) Homepage
    "...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 spokesman for the people, but is acting as an agent of persecution." - Philip K. Dick

    Look around you. How safe do you feel? Now ask yourself why and don't simply snap back the practiced response. Consider the source of these feelings. Does this make you happy?
  • 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...

  • Re:Ugly choices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corebreech (469871) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:39PM (#8180370) Journal
    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 bin Laden who was on the tape in the first place. Which means that what the tape really proves is that the only evidence implicating bin Laden was forged.

    Which explains why you can't find a copy of the video on any mainstream media or government web site.
  • by seraph93 (560551) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:41PM (#8180389)
    At WWII we had to make much larger sacrifices to save the free world and democracy.

    I agree, we had to do all that we could during WWII to support the war effort. Some civil liberties simply had to be suspended. Did we cry and whine about freedom? No! We swore to never forget the horrifying events of February 27th, 1933, and supported the Reichstag Fire Decree like any true patriots would. The decree itself should sound familiar to you:

    The articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the constitution are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights to personal freedom [meaning habeas corpus], freedom of speech, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of letters, mail, telegraphs and telephones, order searches and confiscations and restrict property, even if this is not otherwise provided for by present law.
    It was a bold step for the government, but such measures are necessary to prevent terrorism. Law-abiding citizens had nothing to fear, of course, and terrorist activities were made a thing of the past. I'm proud and happy to see the United States following the example that the Fatherland has provided. Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and America has learned so very well.
  • by Lord of Ironhand (456015) <arjen@xyx.nl> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:52PM (#8180478) Homepage
    I agree that the average Joe Terrorist (hmm... doesn't sound right...) will have to be more careful and has less chance of succesfully attacking a target in the US.

    However, you should also consider that by fueling anti-US sentiments in the middle east, terrorist organisations have absolutely no problem finding new members prepared to give their lives for the cause.

    I'm guessing that added together, these two effects still amount to an increase in terrorism. A different approach to terrorism (such as trying to remove the cause of those anti-US sentiments) might be much more effective.

  • by Jo_2521 (207080) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:56PM (#8180505)
    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?

    This sounds like you have to gamble freedom of political expression for privacy. Yet, one is not possible without the other. See elections as example.

    It's true that theoretically the American constitution grants a higher freedom of speech than the German one does. This is (among other things) due to the Nazi regime and ongoing revisionism in the days the German constitution was formed (1949).

    But in practice there shouldn't be much difference. You are allowed to deny the Holocaust and freely wave the flag of the 3. Reich in the US which is a crime in Germany (one I don't oppose), but I think racism, at least origining from corporations, is forbidden in the US too?

    By the way, in Germany songs with words such as "fuck" are played as they are, yet in the US these words are beeped. Seems that your freedom of speech isn't so absolute after all...

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