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NSA To Datamine Social Networking Sites 346

Posted by Zonk
from the go-where-the-data-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New Scientist has discovered that the NSA is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in Internet technology -- specifically the forthcoming 'semantic web' championed by the Web standards organisation W3C -- to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals."
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NSA To Datamine Social Networking Sites

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:58AM (#15502238) Journal
    NSA Researcher: "Herr Direktor, the results from mining Slashdot have just come in!"
    NSA Director Alexander: "Well, what have you found, son?"
    NSA Researcher: "Well, sir, according to the report, this multi-billion dollar project has revealed that TripMaster Monkey [slashdot.org] is insightful, informative & interesting ... also that ..."
    NSA Director Alexander: "Yes, what else?"
    NSA Researcher: "It's about Commander Taco, sir ... he's gay [slashdot.org].
    NSA Director Alexander: "My GOD! Get me the president! And make sure he's dishonerably discharged immediately!"
    NSA Researcher: "Yes SIR!"

    How are they certain that the rules derived from these sites like MySpace or even Slashdot are even accurate? People post mis-information all the time & you can hardly call MySpace a reliable source for even seeding a semantic web. You can build a social network but even then it's hard because you're linking mostly aliases. Nowhere will you find my real name associated with my slashdot or myspace account--though you may be able to link them.
    • by Moqui (940533) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:04AM (#15502297)
      On MySpace, I am independently wealthy, married to *two* supermodels, and have so much Slashdot karma that I have infinite mod points.

      Because, as we all know, no one lies on the Internet. :)

      In all seriousness though, there is a difference between the NSA parsing MySpace pages and the NSA pulling down phone records. It's my fault if I put anything on the social sites that could be used against me in the future (see: retarded bank robbers who post pictures of their "loot" with masks off on their MySpace pages) as the site is public by its very definition (well, the publicly non-friend sections that is). My phone records on the other hand, are private.

      Data mine all you want, I don't think it will give you that much information. That is, other than how not to style a webpage.

      • by TCM (130219) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:21AM (#15502446)
        It's my fault if I put anything on the social sites that could be used against me in the future (see: retarded bank robbers who post pictures of their "loot" with masks off on their MySpace pages) as the site is public by its very definition (well, the publicly non-friend sections that is).
        I'd be wary about this. By the same logic, would you agree to full-scale public surveillance in picture and sound combined with massive computing power to dig out any detail and hold it against you, because it's public anyway?

        Example: I don't participate in Payback schemes, because there is a difference between

        1) the local gas station clerk knows what I bought in his station only and can maybe remember my face for some days.

        2) the gas company knows what I bought nation-wide and can dig through it with unlimited accuracy.

        If you have to be careful all the time about what you say publicly, guess what you have? Ask people from before-1989 easter germany or a chinese citizen. They can tell you.
        • You bring up a good point. And it is a slippery slope when talking about the survelliance and analysis of populations. I do agree with you, and am usually the first to throw up the caution flag when discussing personal liberties. However, there is a jump in level between what I post on a public website by my own hand, and cameras in the sky that monitor where I walk (though our compatriots in the London already have to deal with this).

          You mention Payback schemes, by which I assume you mean "savings car

          • However, there is a jump in level between what I post on a public website by my own hand, and cameras in the sky that monitor where I walk

            What you say in public and where you go is in your own hand, too. "Noone is forcing you to do anything" is a dangerous argument here, because essentially you are forced to behave differently through the knowledge that somebody is watching. It's a psychological thing. That's how oppressive regimes work and I don't think you realize this yet. People under control limit the

          • The NSA is out of control and should be stopped. Hear that, NSA?
        • I'd be wary about this. By the same logic, would you agree to full-scale public surveillance in picture and sound combined with massive computing power to dig out any detail and hold it against you, because it's public anyway?

          You mean like the growing network of privately funded video serveillance in every store and the ubiquitous in urban areas traffic cameras at every intersection and at regular intervals on the highway?

        • would you agree to full-scale public surveillance in picture and sound combined with massive computing power to dig out any detail and hold it against you, because it's public anyway?
          For a test drive of your future, just visit the UK.
      • It's my fault if I put anything on the social sites that could be used against me in the future

        That brings up an interesting question, though. Your example of the bank robbers posting pictures of their crimes is something that could be used against them today. But what if you post information that's legally/socially benign today, but can be used against you in the future? It gets stored in your "permanent record" for some time, but then later resurfaces at a time when it _can_ be used against you?

        Pro

        • How do they know your weren't lying about it. I can make up anything and just say that I'm trying to be interesting/boasting/developing a plot for a novel/movie/whatever. As long as your intent isn't to defraud someone, I don't believe that lying in general isn't illegal. I could just as easily admit to doing illegal things, but the burden of proof is on them (the state) to prove that I did illegal things. Like say that I smoke crack. Unless they can get proof that I actually smoked crack, they have no
      • The brazilian police is hopping to catch some drug dealer that are using Orkut, massively popular arround here, to sell drugs. But there is a line, if the drug dealer or bank robber posted publicly their crimes, then then they get what they deserve. But if the police or NSA or anybody else start bulling the companies to release them private notes and information, without a judge permit (I forgot the correct word :-P), I would think this is going too far.

        What I mean is, if NSA or the police is using the data
    • "Nowhere will you find my real name associated with my slashdot or myspace account--though you may be able to link them."

      There will be alot of unrelatable accounts for one person, I expect to read articles telling me the spooks are tracking 10 trillion people on the net, and have managed to connect M.Moore to OBL with less than six "go betweens".
    • I've had a notion for awhile that you and TMM are actually the same person.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:57AM (#15502829) Journal
      I'll tell you a different kind of a "in soviet russia" story, and it's not a joke. I'll tell you what kept those people in line under most totalitarian regimes. Yes, the short story is "the secret police", but that's only a very superficial view of the problem.

      The communist block's secret police didn't always have the indiscriminate brutality of Stalin's black cars and summary executions. It eventually evolved into something more "subtle": the widespread idea that somewhere they have a dossier of what you've said and who you've associated with. That even if you don't land in the Gulag (but then again, you might land there anyway) for going drinking again with comrade Piotr who speaks against the government, there'll be a page in your dossier for ever flagging you as sharing Piotr's subversive views. And it someday might bite you in the ass. E.g., maybe some day you won't get a promotion, or the party's approval to go abroad (on business or holyday), or whatever, just because somewhere there's a page in your dossier saying you're a subversive element and associate with traitors.

      Now they didn't have the computers or manpower to actually do that on anywhere near the scale NSA is doing it, so the probability was really low, but the chilling effect was thorough anyway. People didn't want to take risks, so they tended to shut up.

      But the effect was more perverse than that. Anyone who openly spoke against the government was seen as a potential agent provocateur, trying to bait you into saying something that'll come back to haunt you later. It's the most perverse thing you can do to prevent organized resistance: make sure that people don't trust each other. The guy shouting against the government might be paid by the government, or may be someone who has a petty grudge against you and tries to get you to say something you might regret.

      Basically, the the most effective threats don't have to be explicit, but vague and implicit. People don't have to know that the government will swiftly come and send them to Guantanamo for speaking against it. The most effective threat is to just have everyone know that you know everything they did and everyone they associated with, that it's for ever attached to their file somewhere, and they don't know how or when you'll use it. Maybe you'll go for direct retaliation, or maybe their son won't be able to get a government scholarship/job/whatever because of what they said, or whatever. That unknown can pretty chilling while costing very little to maintain. (A lot less than trying to execute everyone who disaggrees, and creates less martyrs.)

      And all this mining phone calls and social sites (a lot do have personal information, e.g., dating sites) has the potential to create a chilling effect of epic proportions. Is John speaking out against the new fascist government? Well, then better make sure you're not on his friends list or calling him every week. You don't want to have _that_ on your file, now do you? If you're an employer, better get rid of him on your own, because otherwise, you know, that relationship goes on your file too. Plus, you know they'll make a connection every time he calls you to take a sick day, or you call him to ask why the server isn't up. Better not risk losing a fat government contract just because you're associating with and employing undesirables.

      Does that have to be accurate and filtered clean of character assassination bullshit? No, it's probably better if it isn't. Might get some people thinking they already have plenty of bogus or inaccurate stuff on their file anyway, so all the more reason not to add real stuff to it too. Better keep low and try not to trip their radar, than have to explain which stuff is bogus and which isn't
    • Hmmm, the only way this won't be as big a waste is if the results are used in the premise of the next great reality based TV show. The real crooks and terrorists are not going to make finding them that easy, so most of the data collected will be from the mostly ridiculous and sometimes pathetic lives of ordinary, mostly young, people. Afterall, we old folks already have enough good sense not to link our real lives with the net, right???? It could all be quite entertaining and won't require the hiring of any
    • How are they certain that the rules derived from these sites like MySpace or even Slashdot are even accurate? People post mis-information all the time & you can hardly call MySpace a reliable source for even seeding a semantic web.

      This makes me want to start writing a story from the first-person perspective of a fictional terrorist. An ideal way to go about it would be to create a MySpace account, and the story would reference this "diary" where the terrorist would be posting "coded messages" to his fel

      • scewing their data (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DM9290 (797337)
        Do you think that a deliberate attempt to obstruct the NSA's ability to "Protect America from Terrorism" (tm) isn't illegal?

        In fact, you probably already broke the law just for posting an article counseling how to obstruct the NSA datamining program.

        Someone is here on a visa or is an illegal alien? They should certainly be tracked. Legal citizens? Recognize that they have inalienable essential liberties which are guaranteed by the Constitution, and using the War Powers Act to try to justify your actions is
    • As scary as this might sound, I see no reason for anyone including the NSA to be banned from using publicly available information. This isn't like demanding phone records that are normally accessable only with a warrant.

      That said, I do hope they use a little common sense and realize that profiles and other statements on the internet may be wildly inaccurate. And this is one more occassion to remind users that they should post nothing that they wouldn't want just anyone to see.
  • Welcome to.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scsirob (246572) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:58AM (#15502242)
    .. 1984. George was right, just off by 22 years.
    • Re:Welcome to.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:02AM (#15502286) Homepage Journal
      .. 1984. George was right, just off by 22 years.

      The NSA's been intercepting & analysing any communications it can get its hands on since its inception.

      Nothing new here, and its been going on since long before 1984 (although george was smart seeing it coming in '48).
      • Any proof of that? Evidence the NSA mined all civil communications for generations would be political dynamite (if the use of such adjectives are still considered wise on-line.)
      • Re:Welcome to.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gatzke (2977)
        In 1984, people were required to have the TV spy sets in their houses to be watched. You are not required to post on MySpace or /.

        In 1984, I think you could not turn off the TV. In 2006, you can turn off your computer and TV and go outside.

        You are not spied on inside your house without cause, but posting on the internet is like putting a big sign up in your front yard with information availalable to the public in general. If you don't like people reading your public information, don't post online or be ca
        • In 1984, I think you could not turn off the TV. In 2006, you can turn off your computer and TV and go outside.

          The proles were not spied on and did not have the telescreen, but were happy (bread and circuses) and didn't care one way or the other about politics.

          Party members at large were spied on, had telecreens and could turn the sound down but could not turn them off.

          Inner power members (our analog would be elected officials at higher levels) could turn their telecreens off and were corrupt to the core.

          Jus

    • "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

      George Orwell

  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:58AM (#15502243)

    You know, as much as I'd like to get all worked up about this issue and fire off another foamy-mouthed diatribe about the pervasiveness of government surveillance, Big Brother, etc., etc., I'm having difficulty justifying it. After all, this information is being posted out there, specifically for others to view. If you put a sign in your front yard declaring how much you hate the government, you shouldn't act too surprised when the government reads it.
    • I put my information out there for beered-up, iPod using college kids to see, not the NSA. By the system of the site I use (Facebook) you should be a friend of a friend, or attend OSU to see that. It's a little different than a sign in the yard.
      • /*By the system of the site I use (Facebook) you should be a friend of a friend, or attend OSU to see that.*/

        What do you mean by "... should be a friend of a friend or attend OSU..."? As far as I know, I can do a name search on Facebook for whomever I want and read whatever I want from their profile page. Anything you put on Facebook is *public* information and should be treated as such. I've already seen articles in my local paper about hiring officers using alumni e-mail addresses to look at what a [startribune.com]
    • If you put a sign in your front yard declaring how much you hate the government, you shouldn't act too surprised when the government reads it.

      True... but if you put personal data up on the Internet for everyone to see, hoping to attract like-minded individuals and get your personal ideas and beliefs out into the main stream, you really don't expect the Federal Government to take that information, process, and try to link you to nefarious doings, do you? Mind you, I think it's a poor idea to put too much correct personal information out there, because it's not just government snoops you have to worry about. Still, given the fact that it's easy to string together unrelated information to make a plausible case (prosecutors do this a lot), you have to wonder just how the Feds might misinterpret your information and calim your involvement in something you have nothing to do with. Remember, we interned Japanese-Americans during WWII, not because they were spies, but just because of their Japanese ancestry.

    • This story reminds me of this artical: linky [theonion.com]

    • Assuming your American, your government is spending money gathering data in the name of terrorism from MySpace?

      Look, they are spending money You gave to them. Your comment is like saying you can't get fired up at government workers for playing solitaire all day because the computer they were provided has it pre-installed.

      Of course you can!!!!

    • It's a valid point but as other's have pointed out you have to question the legitimacy of the information being posted. Blogs are trivial to fake. And by the way it's not illegal to put a sign in your yard saying that you hate the government.
    • If you put a sign in your front yard declaring how much you hate the government, you shouldn't act too surprised when the government reads it.

      Yes, but if FBI agents start amassing in groups outside your house reading and pointing at your sign there's something wrong.

      Many actions, especially many of those performed by the government has to be judged more by their potential for misuse than for their potential use.

    • Technically, our lives are "out there," specifically for others to view, as well. That does not mean the government has any business categorizing honest citizens, unless of course, we are now regarded as a "threat" or an "enemy."

      This intrusive goose-stepping must stop.
    • The New COINTELPRO (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:31AM (#15502540) Journal
      What is the point? Do they think terrorists are going to be putting up MySpace profiles? No, this is about finding and suppressing people who question the government. This isn't about terrorists, its about peace activists, environmentalists, socialists, libertarians, and anyone else not satisfied with the status quo. Think COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org]. This has no purpose other than facilitating the suppression of dissent. To quote from the wikipedia page:

      According to Brian Glick, in War at Home, COINTELPRO used a broad array of methods, including:

      1. "Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents." [3]

      2. "Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used myriad other "dirty tricks" to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists." [4]

      3. "Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, 'investigative' interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters."

      4. "Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI and police threatened, instigated, and themselves conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements. In the case of radical Black and Puerto Rican activists (and later Native Americans), these attacks--including political assassinations--were so extensive, vicious, and calculated that they can accurately be termed a form of official 'terrorism.'". [5]


      This is scary. Just because this information is out there doesn't mean the government should datamine it or act on it. Even in public, one has a reasonable assumption that one won't be stalked or spied upon. Besides, this is a complete waste of resources that could go to doing soemthign effective to fight terrorism. But the powers that be honestly don't want that. If you are selling security, you have to make sure people feel insecure.
    • The government is watching you man!

      seriously some guys with black helicoptors could be flying around any time now. and the worst thing I've done is speak vocally against all the crappy censorship that people use all the time. i'm willing to bet that the fbi was monitoring all my internet traffic the past week, luckily i just got a virus. meh it was doing all kinds of crazy stuff >_.

      oh well.
    • It's that it has boiled down to anything you say or do in public can and will be used against you. There's no such thing as a reasonable expectation of obscurity if one participates in any public venue anymore. Sure, people are putting out information themselves, but that doesn't mean the government shouldn't exercise some propriety and not pry into matters that shouldn't concern it.

      People can't live free if everything they do in public is scrutinized and recorded by their government (or every employer) f
    • How would you feel to discover that a single individual was tracking all your communications, monitoring your movements, collating all public traces you leave behind? Most here would find it disturbing and seek legal remedy. Yet when a government automates and collates this across an entire citizenry it's made to sound like an issue for those prone to 'foamy mouth diatribes'. Yet at worse an individual can harm one, two, a dozen others before being taken out of circulation, governments have consistently har
    • After all, this information is being posted out there, specifically for others to view. If you put a sign in your front yard declaring how much you hate the government, you shouldn't act too surprised when the government reads it.

      Yeah, I see what you're saying.. the information is in a public forum.
      My main problem isn't that they're legally able to do this, but that they feel the need to collect as much information as possible on every person on earth.

      I wouldn't feel comfortable being trailed by government
    • If you put a sign in your front yard...you shouldn't act too surprised when the government reads it.

      Except everyone else walking by my yard doesn't have access to my bank accounts, credit history, phone records, tax forms, airplane travel, etc. All that private stuff that no one has any business in seeing. As far as I'm concerned: "no one" includes any governmental entity that doesn't directly deal with that information.

      Sure, the IRS has business in my tax forms but not my bank accounts.

      Sure, the FDIC has
  • First Post (Score:5, Funny)

    by teratogenicbenzene (887723) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:59AM (#15502249) Homepage
    First Post!

    And what has the NSA learned from this?

    That I'm a lazy, self-aggrandizing slashdot reader with way too much time on my hands.
  • by DimGeo (694000)
    If that can help reduce the false positives, I am all for it.
  • Hey! Those people aren't in my school network! Seriously, though... Would sites like Facebook open access to the NSA or can they just go in there, bypassing the usual requirement of being in the school network? I'd hate to have to see the NSA set up fake school e-mails at EVERY school on Facebook.
  • by hrrY (954980) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:03AM (#15502290)
    I may *want* to be data-mined...think about the promise of a genuine advancement in online-speed-dating. Or maybe they could start a service that datea-mines, hmm, the possibilities. Although, does that include or not include those my tier? I don't date anyone outside my tier; there's principalities.
  • It's about time they do it. It should help decrease real, potential threats like school shootings and child molesters.
    How many times have you heard myspace on the news in a negative way? (except for "on the money", where they talk about how much it's worth) I don't mind it (NSA doing the datamining), being that you voluntarily post your information.
  • Public info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:06AM (#15502307) Homepage Journal
    I have no issue with data analysis of personal information available on the web (assuming it got there legally).

    But this does absolutely nothing for national security - which is the namesake of the agency. If a hate site goes up and government starts watching it to see if they're promoting violence, then fine. But creating profiles of everyone online is pointless. I'm sure they already have systems that scour the web and raise red flags. But putting my name and profile into a database at the NSA does nothing to aid security (I promise :).
    • And it's not as if social networking sites are bastions of truthful facts. People who want to explore gender identity issues often do so online. People who want to hook up with hot people may exagerate information about themselves. Even if the NSA eventually figures out that someone goes by the opposite gender online from what they really are in the real world, how does all this time and effort help national security exactly?
      • Even if the NSA eventually figures out that someone goes by the opposite gender online from what they really are in the real world, how does all this time and effort help national security exactly?

        Men acting as women online must be gay. Gayness is a threat to marriage. Any threat to marriage is a threat to our national security. C'mon, get with the program!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:06AM (#15502310)
    So, all I have to do is pretend to be someone else and go create accounts and blogs all over the place as the person I am spoofing and the NSA would add all the bogus information I create to my targets permanent record.

    or am I missing something?
  • by Seth Cohn (24111) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:09AM (#15502341)
    They've sworn up and down how they won't create a central database, but this sort of datamining is exactly what they have in mind...

    Add in RFID chipped drivers licenses (not to mention the new passports which DO use RFID), and you have the making of a complete "We know who you are, who you hang out with, and where you were last night" totalitarian tracking system.

    This is why many of us are moving to New Hampshire, joining the http://freestateproject.org/ [freestateproject.org], and working against these things. We nearly stopped New Hampshire from participating in REALID (the Republican Senators are selling out the state for a mere $3 million...) and we're not done yet.
  • by kthejoker (931838) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:12AM (#15502358)
    I still don't get how NSA workers as American citizens can justify this kind of BS in their heads. They seriously must be the most sociopathic, mean-spirited, fascist-minded people in the country.

    Seriously, as a citizen of this great country, I couldn't sleep at night if I were personally responsible in some way for collecting and aggregating this information.
    • I still don't get how NSA workers as American citizens can justify this kind of BS in their heads. They seriously must be the most sociopathic, mean-spirited, fascist-minded people in the country.

      I know a guy who applied to the NSA. I don't know whether he got in, but I've known him since high school. He was a math major in college, played a lot of D&D, Lord of the Five Rings, Warhammer 40k, and World of Warcraft. For all intents and purposes he was completey apolitical. He thought he was a paga

  • Myspace (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:15AM (#15502387) Homepage Journal
    Thanks to MySpace, the NSA now knows that there are far more 18-year-old bisexual cheerleaders named Tiffany out there than anyone ever realized, there is a very good reason so many musicians never get record deals, and everyone in the entire world is in your extended social network (especially that creepy mutant Tom.)
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:16AM (#15502395) Homepage
    I think there needs to be an intelligence meter along the lines of one of those rollercoaster "you must be this tall to get on the ride" signs for democratic participation. Anyone who seriously believes that this sort of thing exists to fight terrorism rather than monitor the public for potential signs of rebellious behavior or personalities that might one day become political rebels would fall well below the level of participating. I don't know how they could make it more obvious that their goal is social control, not bonafide anti-terrorist.

    Disagree? When was the last time that you saw a terrorist on a social network like MySpace, posting hints about their desire to terrorize others? What are the odds that they would even join, since terrorism is more difficult the more exposed you are on "the grid?"
    • I rather doubt that Osama bin Laden has a MySpace too, his idea of crimes against humanity are usually a bit grandiose...

      In all seriousness, there's a lot that can be learned from online communities. Jihadi groups are as wired as any other group, and learning how social networks develop online helps determine how jihadi bulletin boards and websites connect with terrorist cells worldwide. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda also recruit online more and more these days, and being able to stop that will be of gre

    • As I often suggest in slippery-slope discussions, perhaps we should actively encourage this sort of behaviour by the government. It's going to happen anyway: power corrupts, sheeple are naive, and all that. But the sooner it gets to the point that the average voter in the street sees the dangers, rather than just those who believe in civil liberties and scrutinise government actions, the sooner the popular feeling will start to turn against it.

      Then the media will pick it up, and government popularity will

    • When was the last time that you saw a terrorist on a social network like MySpace, posting hints about their desire to terrorize others?

      Why, just today, in fact. See [myspace.com]? ;-)
    • It's all about the 72 virgins. Who would commit jihad to get 72 virgins if he could get 72 virgins right here on Earth? Why go to another world to get your reward if you can get the same reward here, and not have to give up ties to your mother and buddies who are still living?

      (Shit, I just Googled "jihad virgins" 'cause I couldn't remember the number. Am I in trouble now?)
  • No-one wants to be snooped on but this information is volunteered and as such is fair game. I'll fight to the death to keep my details private but if people are putting that information up there it's fair game. Not sure they are going to catch too many terrorists that way (Likes: Sport, hanging out, overthrowing decadent and secular regimes...).
  • I mean, the NSA is only going to target those goofy social networking sites, right? I mean, I can't think of a reason they'd want to data mine and cross reference the membership of a technology site where the average user is not only technically skilled, but also tends to lean toward non-standard politics. I mean, all we talk about here are things like encryption, the NSA, military hardware, robotics, and...okay, Wii. But don't think for a second that NOBODY can link you back to who you really are from here
  • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug.opengeek@org> on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:24AM (#15502475) Homepage Journal
    With this particular administration, it's troublesome because I just KNOW they are going to use it to serve their interests, not ours in general.

    I got worked up about this a while ago and the hard truth is that free speech is just that --free! We all are big kids and have spoken on the Internet. If what we have written is defensible, then we can expect to live by it. Those of us older school netizens are very likely to understand this and post accordingly. I honestly worry about the current generation however. It's difficult to differentiate casual speech where feelings are expressed in less than flattering ways from more serious speech with some measure of intent behind it.

    Which again brings me back to some worry where this administration is concerned. The fact that they are looking to do this because they can suggests to me the motivation is less than pure. Honestly, why bother unless there is some benefit to all of us for doing it. Afterall we are the ones paying the bill.

    We, as a people, are reaching a general state of unrest --and we've got reasons for that. The Internet empowers us to trancend the ordinary media channels and exercize our role in ways that make established power channels nervous. Real change brings with it some accountability for those gaming the system toward their own ends. Given their position, this is a perfectly logical reaction.

    A government doing the right things, that has the high ground where justifying it's actions is concerned, has little reason for efforts like this. Take this as strong evidence this is not the case with our current leadership.

    So, even though we have all spoken on the net and technically should not worry because it's all legal, I say there is some cause for worry for the accountability factor. (Not us, our leadership.)

    Here's the takeaway: If you want to speak, in this connected day and age, on matters of government, you had better make sure what you write is defensible and that you have the high ground in your convictions. If not, you will be marginalized at some time in the future if your activities merit the effort. That sucks, but that's gonna be the way it is until such time as we elect a solid government that will modify existing legislation to keep such activities in check. Trust me, this particular one is just not ever going to do that.

    The good news, IMHO, is that this same connected power that puts us in an exposed position also permits us to work together toward solid reform that is in our best interests! Best to take serious advantage of that now, before the advantage is lost, or legislated away. Is there no longer any doubt about the true intent of net neutrality? Sure, money is the big driver here, but so is speech! The blogs, for better or worse, have made complete fools of the established media channels and a growing number of people grok that now. (Why the hell did it take so long?)

    We see our attorney general saying he is open to the idea of prosecution for whistle blowers, our President and Vice have claimed to be above the law and cloak pretty much everything in secrecy, our global actions are more self-serving than ever, recent court appointees are screened for their deference to established power channels, and our expectation of privacy is being marginalized under the ruse of greater security. (God damm it, a whole lotta people have no fucking backbone!) --And there is more, but hey --I've gotta work you know?

    Show me some benefit and I'll ignore this whole thing. Until then, it's probably safe to say this will be used to marginalize any potential challengers to the current status quo politically.

    Despite this, I personally will continue to speak. Our speech lies at the core of our freedom. Stay quiet and all is lost. Join me, put aside your fear they cultivate and speak your mind --just be sure it's true and just. --eventually we all will be better for it, IMHO.

    • ECHELON was a Clinton era problem, don't blame W for this intrusion because you don't like his politics. Dems and Pubs have reduced your freedom for years.

      http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/12/19/1148 07.shtml [newsmax.com]

      And what some call prosecution of whistle blowers, others call revealing state secrets or treasonous behavior. The spy program you say was "above the law" was briefed to congressmen of both parties and nobody raised the issue. Dems came out against spying on terrorists only after the news broke
  • Finally something that might actually kill off all those lame bebo sites.
  • About who can fake the NSA out. Using webrings, postings, blog articles, code words, etc.

    I want it all to point to some abandoned house that's supposedly a terrorist cell.

    I want a webcam and computer to snap a picture of NSA agents busting in, and then print
    them out a little message :

    "Stop domestic spying. Stop hurting America with your un-American actions. Stand up. Do
    something. Speak out."
  • How do you think they found Zarqawi?

    Little known fact: he posted a bulletin on his Myspace page inviting his friends over for a barbeque.
    Even provided a link to google maps so they could find his place.

    Next they're going to look at his top 8 to crack down on the rest of Al Quaeda.
    It's only a matter of time before the war on terror is over, thanks to this datamining of Myspace.
  • First Internet Neutrality gets the boot, and now we learn the folks from the NSA are doing their level best to psychologically profile anyone and everyone who makes any information public or exchanges any information online... This just doesn't sound good at all. This makes an encrypted public mesh network seem that much more appealing now. Say, why don't we all snag some $100 Laptops? Only $130 each, wireless mesh capability included.

    I have to wonder what having a massive databank of emo kid profiles is go
  • Yes, since people voluntarily place their information on these networks, that attenuates the indignation at this government data collection a bit. BUT, what about information that's put up there involuntarily? Ex: I have a facebook account (sorry), but at the least I wanted to keep a picture myself off it. But soon after, Facebook added the feature to tag pictures with the names of the people in it, and given enough data sets, an algorithm to identify myself in newer pictures! Pictures of myself popped up,
  • by srobert (4099) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:37AM (#15502624)
    ...welcome our neocon overlords.
  • by Xugumad (39311) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:38AM (#15502633)
    People to look at information posted on social networking sites. Well, duh.

    Seriously, the issue is not the NSA is doing this. The issue is the NSA appears to be doing this from publically available information. Or, as the first line of the article puts it:

    "I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves." So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software.
  • (Nelson) Haha! (/Nelson)

    Its bad enough we have pedos and all sorts of unsavory people browsing myspace looking for people to exploit. Now the government wants in on the action too.

    ZING!
  • Finding the bad guys (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:41AM (#15502666)
    Perhaps they figure the bad guys are going to lay low. You create the master social network database for the whole country and then check if people are actually in it. If you pull a guy over for speeding and he doesn't show up in the NSA database there's probably something fishy about him ;-)
  • Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    The information they're collecting here is public as it's on the internet, but my question is why? First of all, it may or may not be accurate. People do lie on the internet. Second of all, do they really think terrorists will post incriminating evidence on MySpace? Honestly? Maybe some criminals are stupid enough to do so, but no one the NSA would be worried about. Lastly, can't they think of anything better to spend their budget on? If this is the best they can come up with, we should probably take some o
  • Federal Profiles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:57AM (#15502827) Journal
    all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

    As-if the federal gov't didn't already have personal information about all of it's citizens and most non-citizens. I mean come on guys - let's not spin another scare tactic. Social Security numbers - the fed has access to your criminal records, financial records, work records, purchase records, etc. This has been the case for many many years - way before the Internet.

    This is nothing new. The only thing we need to do is to make sure the gov't does not misuse the information. Yes there are cases where it has been misused, and in instances where it was maliciously done so we should punish the culprits so heavily as to scare the crap out of any would-be evil-doer. In the case of accident, fix the mistake and put in prevantative measures.
  • The good news is that they probably will have to pay extra to prioritize their traffic (thanks to no net neutrality) so they can get their data in a timely fashion. And to pay for that they'll just raise the taxes of......oh crap.

  • I've seen this one coming from a mile away. Anyone with a high speed internet connection and a couple of computers (or a botnet) can data mine the entire MySpace directory. You'll get a whole lot of information from MySpace, since people are so willing to spend rediculous amounts of time looking for "friends". The real value of MySpace is in the consumer profiles they build from all your friends and the keywords you guys are into. When miss teen bopper picks that crappy song to play in her MySpace, you can
  • Well, there go my hopes of raising a Godly army of the faithful to fight the infidel West. Looks like it's back to my day job in accounting.

    -Eric

  • The information people put out in the public domain (even information they might not have intended to place there) is public domain.

    The misinformation that is out there will need to be dealt with; statistical analysis can not yield to-the-person accurate data 100% of the time, but it can yield a wealth of other information.

    To deny our own government permission to look at (or even examine in detail) anything that is by definition public is tantamount to insisting that our government conduct all of its affa

  • Um, but I don't have a social networking account or a personal webpage! One of these days I'm going to have to make a list of things that I'd put up on a personal webpage or blog.

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