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The Pentagon Wants a 'TiVo' to Watch You 256

Posted by Zonk
from the i-think-the-shulmans-are-particularly-funny-this-week dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Danger Room, a Wired blog, today cites a study of future electronic snooping technologies from Reuters, written by the Pentagon's Defense Science Board. More than anything, it seems these outside advisers want a surveillance system that would put Big Brother to shame, and they're looking at the commercial sector to provide it. 'The ability to record terabyte and larger databases will provide an omnipresent knowledge of the present and the past that can be used to rewind battle space observations in TiVo-like fashion and to run recorded time backwards to help identify and locate even low-level enemy forces. For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source, and then use that knowledge to focus collection and gain additional information by organizing and searching through archived data.'"
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The Pentagon Wants a 'TiVo' to Watch You

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  • In the United States of America, government TV watches YOU!

    I'm sorry, I had to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:00PM (#18232584)
    You watch TiVos
  • by ATAMAH (578546) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:02PM (#18232602)
    Geographically, would it be in Soviet Russia, by any chance?
  • I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:03PM (#18232612)
    ...Welcome our new Hooveristic overlords.

    On a serious note, since when as an analytical, scientific approach worked in catching bad guys. It's like C-3PO consistently panicking about the odds of a disaster happening while everybody else ( who isn't a robot ) uses their common sense and rationality without panicking, to get them through.

    We all know that people are unpredictable. You can't apply scientific rationale to people.

    Just my two cents.
    • Re:I for one... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:20PM (#18232758)
      "For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source, and then use that knowledge to focus collection and gain additional information by organizing and searching through archived data."

      No more "Hooveristic" than a camera at the local Quickie Mart. An action is filmed, the data trail is followed backwards until something useful is found.

      "We all know that people are unpredictable. You can't apply scientific rationale to people."

      This is not about predicting them, it is about recording what is done in public space and using it to trace activities back to source.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lawpoop (604919)
        "No more "Hooveristic" than a camera at the local Quickie Mart. An action is filmed, the data trail is followed backwards until something useful is found."

        You're telling me that every video camera at every little Quickie Mart has a wire leading back directly to the Pentagon where they have full DVR capabilities?

        This is entirely different than a Quickie Mart. This is real-time wide-area surveillance capabilities.

        Suppose you had an 'enemies' list and had a plot to disappear each of them in the course of o
        • I believe the correct 'Patriot Act' compliant term you're looking for is: 'Enemy Combatant'.

          The Goons will watch 'enemy combatants' go on their daily routine. As soon as the 'enemy combatants' appear, the goons nab them.

          This is reminiscent of a South Park episode. The one where the kids go shooting with Jimbo and Ned [spscriptorium.com]. The goons just have to wait until the 'enemy combatant' appears on screen, then shout: 'By God, it's coming right for us!' and nab them (even if they're just sitting on their arses watchin

      • After the Oklahoma City atrocity, there was enough density of business security camera coverage to reconstruct the route of the Ryder truck.

        Making the same sort of thing centralized, and cheap enough to do routinely, is worth worrying about. As Stalin allegedly said, "Quantity has a quality all its own".
      • The quickie mart camera is a private business watching its own private lot. ( though i agree it is hard to restrict to JUST the lot, the intent is there at least )

        What we are discussing here is government funded cameras wastching public areas 'Just beacuse something *might* happen, someday.... this is a far different thing.
    • of course people are predictable... individuals and groups...

      at the individual level, lets say for me, rudimetary surveilance would have me leaving for work M-F at 8:30 AM and returning shortly after 5:00 pm. Therefore, one could easily extrapolate that tomorrow, i'll be on the same schedule. Further, if someone tracked me, they'ed see that each morning i go to starbucks. though the drinks vary, the schedule is the same...

      likewise in groups. with a large enough group, though you won't necessarily be able to
  • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:04PM (#18232620)
    The only reason this doesn't scare me is that I'm supremely confident that government red tape, massive budgetary blow outs and vendor selection based purely on campaign contributions will never result in a workable system.
    • by symbolic (11752)
      I agree - it's clearly beyond the scope of what the current administration can offer. Besides, they only have two years to get it done- in the next election, I foresee even more Republicans getting their walking papers. Ain't gonna happen. And if it does, it's time for recalls. Congress STILL controls the funding.
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Not only the reasons that you name, but once it is decided to let the government do this, there will be every reason for multiple groups to hack that system. Hacking would be an activity that is not monitored by such a system, so it would take Orwell's worst nightmare to protect it from hackers. Just think of the number of groups that would have a vested interest in controlling or hacking such a data system. My bet is that within months of being put into production it would be owned by a very well financed
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kisil (900936)
      I think you're partly right - there will likely not be a workable system.

      Unfortunately, there will very likely be a system that partly works. Massive amounts of data will be collected, but processing will not be intelligent enough to translate this into real results in crime-fighting. Any data mining will result in many more false positives than actual results and waste government agents' time, which could otherwise be spent actually tracking down criminals (or terrorists.) Meanwhile, no thought will be
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      You know, I'm sure Mr. Buttle thought the same thing.
    • Another poster mentioned this link [villagevoice.com]. Interestingly the article was written back in 2003. The fact that we've lost so many soldiers with little means for a substantive response, suggests that this effort was an utter failure- at least for any military application. Used against a civilian population (which is probably the ultimate intent), may yield something more positive (but that depends on which side of the fence you happen to be standing).
  • Neoconned alert! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:06PM (#18232630)

    will provide an omnipresent knowledge of the present and the past

    Does the mindset of whoever wrote this creep you out too? It isn't about being religeous - it's about being Gods themselves and making you worship them.

  • Sounds like the US government allowed the Stasi into the US and gave them control of the citizen monitoring project?
    • Replace STASI with MOSSAD, and you'd be close...
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      Sounds like the US government allowed the Stasi into the US and gave them control of the citizen monitoring project?

      Don't be daft. Let's just take three key words from the summary and see if we can figure out what's being developed:

      Pentagon
      battlespace
      car bomb

      Hey! This sounds like something the military wants to use in war zones! Oh yeah, a DVR and camera in every military vehicle in Iraq is a terrible intrusion on our privacy here at home.

      Stasi indeed.

  • by Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:10PM (#18232674)
    So it well seems it's intended for military deployment to combat assymetric (and urban) warfare. That is to say to enable the military to seek out the offending insurgent/combatant after a martial event. When your local constable gets interested in this technology then it'll be time for you to worry. In the meantime keep an eye on the developments, but don't be alarmed just yet.
  • A shame (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:11PM (#18232688) Homepage
    It's a shame, if they had chosen ReplayTV instead, they could automatically skip commercials.
  • Pointless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ant P. (974313) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:15PM (#18232724) Homepage
    For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source
    Until you realise the source is in a rural area 50 miles past the first camera to see it.

    "Anti-terrorism" cameras will not stop suicide bombers, nor will they even deter them. They're completely and utterly useless for their stated purpose, which means the government probably has no intention of using them for their stated purpose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      Did you even bother to RTFA or did you just copy a random blurb? All this initiative is about is better ways to analyze intel after a battle or attack. It's not about 'anti-terrorism cameras'. Either you didn't pay attention to much of the article, you have your own agenda to push, or you're daft.
      • Re:Pointless. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by srmalloy (263556) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:09PM (#18233596) Homepage
        How are you going to be able to run surveillance backward from a car bomb detonating to the origin point of the bombers -- or forward, following them to where they're hiding -- without a pervasive net of surveillance? And once you have the capacity to do this in a hostile environment, where you can assume that the opposing forces will place a priority on disabling the surveillance system, it's no stretch at all, given the track record of the Heimatsicherheitsdienst, to see the government deploying these systems in the US for our 'protection', where the populace would have much less incentive to disable surveillance (after all, if you don't have anything to hide, why would you object to someone watching you?) -- particularly since this link [villagevoice.com] in TFA, where it's specifically stated "The primary application is for homeland security"; you might want to try reading more deeply than just a light scan of the first few paragraphs. The potential of this technology reminds me strongly of David Drake's dystopian story collection Lacey and His Friends [amazon.com], written back in the '70s.
        • by Dun Malg (230075)

          particularly since this link [villagevoice.com] in TFA, where it's specifically stated "The primary application is for homeland security"; you might want to try reading more deeply than just a light scan of the first few paragraphs.

          You might want to do the same. The people claiming that were numbnuts PR flacks for defense contractors who call everything "homeland security" because it's the latest buzzword. Tom Strat, the head of the CTS project for DARPA called it nonsense, saying "DARPA's mission is not to do homeland security." Although when badgered he did admit "there's a chance that some of this technology might work its way [into domestic surveillance programs]."

          Besides, it's the Village freakin' Voice for god's sake. You thi

        • Can't remember where I read it, or who it was by, but I read a book once that contained omnipresent wormhole camera's. Eventually they found a way to open the other end of the wormhole in the past and see what happened. People who wanted to hide, dressed in the same mysterious clothing and hung around in dark rooms where it was harder to track who was who. Man that was an odd book.
    • by Barny (103770)
      Think satalite feeds.

      I think maybe someone high up in "homeland security" watched ghost in the shell SAC and thought "if only we had those tools".
    • The cameras will work perfectly. Evil terrorists will drive their cars filled with explosives, American flags, apple pies and puppies up to their intended target. There they'll spot the Anti-Terrorism-Camera (c), curse and then drive home again to cry. My Power Point Presentation proves my point. As you can see, these marvelouse cameras will reduce terrorist attacks on American soil by 100% within the first week of deployment. Just look at this chart: We placed 20 of these cameras in various American villag
    • by geoff lane (93738)
      I for one would prefer not to be blown up.
      If I were blown up I probably wouldn't care much about who did, it being dead.
      If one cent of actual police funding is taken to implement this stupid idea, the terrorists have won.
  • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:21PM (#18232772)
    The top priority needs to be setting up these systems inside the White House and the Pentagon. Then the next time they blunder into a quagmire like this, we can scan the databases and quickly find out exactly who needs to be held accountable. Then the problem can be rectified: "It looks like we're going to have to dock your paychecks for a total of $5.0e11."
    • Ya, wouldnt it be nice to record politicians, cops, and other government officials 24/7 (or at least while theyre working)? It would really cut down on corruption. Dont hold your breath though.
  • For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source, and then use that knowledge to focus collection and gain additional information by organizing and searching through archived data.

    The irony being that the vast majority of car bombs reported in the media these days are in the last place these very same people "improved." Indeed they are a direct consequence of that improving.

    Those that don't study histo
  • by finlandia1869 (1001985) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:23PM (#18232792)
    See the word "battlespace" in the description - that's DoD-ese for "battleground." They're talking about being able to go back and rapidly review/search recordings from satellites and other sensors monitoring combat zones. It's a very good idea - if you could track a car back to a house, you can then see who went in a out, and so forth. You could backtrack a small boat coming out of a sheltered hiding spot, and so forth. It's about time someone thought of this, frankly.

    This isn't domestic surveillance that they're talking about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It is to the Iraqis.
      • by Shihar (153932)
        If Iraqis are willing to turn to racist ethnic militias to keep the their rival racist militias from killing them, I bet they could tolerate the invasion of privacy of a few cameras.
    • by Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:53PM (#18233064) Journal

      This isn't domestic surveillance that they're talking about.

      Yet.

      It takes time for military developments to work their way into the private sector.

      • by gatzke (2977)

        Put your tinfoil hat on, next they will be monitoring your brainwaves.

        Public places can legally be monitored. Cops are allowed to patrol the streets, so automated traffic cameras just extend the natural reach of the police without hiring 100x more cops.

        Private places are still private. You are not required to host a viewscreen like 1984 in your home, although many people do in the form of cable TV and broadband. Don't like it? Unplug! (and put on your tinfoil hat). It is totally legal to NOT let googl
    • by sehlat (180760)
      I see the word "battlespace." The problem is that all technologies, without exception, get their "usage ranges" expanded. Who would have envisioned, for example, an online forum where computer and other techs can swap news and opinions, when the internet was first being developed?

      Sooner or later, there will at least be a proposal for a "copspace."
    • by abb3w (696381)

      See the word "battlespace" in the description - that's DoD-ese for "battleground." [...] This isn't domestic surveillance that they're talking about.

      Maybe you haven't been paying attention during this presidency, but the "battlespace" in the "War on terror" potentially includes US soil. [wikipedia.org]

    • by Tim C (15259)
      I don't see anything in "battlespace" or "battleground" that states or implies "foreign".
  • by The Dobber (576407) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:24PM (#18232802)

    Jack Bauer and his pals at CTU have been Tivo'ing us for at least six seasons.

  • But.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:25PM (#18232816)
    What is supposed to happen, actually? Are we going to have cameras follow every person, 24/7? That means someone to study that footage, right? And someone to study the footage of them studying the footage of you? And....on and on.

    It is clear such clinical monitoring would break down under its own weight - speculative follow-thru says the most logical approach is to give every camera the autonomous ability to decide if something you've done warrants being flagged. Happen in practice? Not hardly.

    Back track from the scene of a car bomb explosion? How many cameras are you using? One or several? If several, where are they located in relation to the car? Points of the compass? Sure, if you know to watch the car from the beginning, in which case there is no point in following the arrow of time back to the start, right?

    While THX1138 hinted at this and other B'Brother style tactics, it also tried to show why such a system simply isn't feasible. There are just too many ways of being defined as outside the box in terms of what such a system could handle. All it takes is one exception, and the system is no longer worth the time it took to draw up the prototype.
    • 24 (Score:3, Insightful)

      What is supposed to happen, actually? Are we going to have cameras follow every person, 24/7? That means someone to study that footage, right? And someone to study the footage of them studying the footage of you? And....on and on.

      They arent suggesting watching everyone. They want to record everything, then when something happens, rewind and then watch the given location. We obviously dont have the man power to watch everyone, but when computers can do it for us....
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:28PM (#18232840) Homepage Journal
    The title of this article is totally off. This is nothing more than a way to analyze battlefield intel better. It's got nothing to do with any kind of surveillance programs or anything other than being able to better catagorize threats and analyze data after a conflict.

    This gives a whole new meaning to 'knee jerk reaction'.
    • by hacker (14635)

      "The title of this article is totally off. This is nothing more than a way to analyze battlefield intel better. It's got nothing to do with any kind of surveillance programs or anything other than being able to better catagorize threats and analyze data after a conflict."

      Except that it is...

      What they're talking about, is aggregating all of the "public" surveillance data from hundreds of systems, tying it all together, and using that to "play back" everything from the point where you leave your house,

  • 24 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:37PM (#18232928) Homepage
    Someones been watching too much 24. I dont believe the Uk even records every camera for much time.. Lets assume you use 350mb an hour to store your video, not the best but acceptable quality.

    24 X 350 = 8400 = 8.4 GB a day

    1000 cameras x 8.4 GB = 8.4 TB a day

    Hmm, on second thought this seems possible.
  • We do it already (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dotmax (642602)
    If i were trying to fight the Iraqi (or other) insurgency i sure as hell would want a tool like this.

    W/o getting into a moralistic analysis, it's clear that while such monitoring is not a panacea, it would at least raise the bar for the insurgents, and increase their exposure to OPSEC fubars.

    We do this already in a less-than-coordinated fashion in the US. The police regularly survey all the security camera tapes in the area of crimes, esp. murders, to try to create a gestalt of the crime scene area. Works
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dbIII (701233)

      If i were trying to fight the Iraqi (or other) insurgency i sure as hell would want a tool like this.

      In that sort of situation you'll get a lot of footage of guys in masks stealing cameras. Over Lebanon the Israeli forces borrowed or bought drones to film from above.

  • I mean, say what you will about big brother but this is the next logical step for satellite based intelligence. We've got some impressive satellites up there already watching "places of interest" around the world. You want them to just take stills? Or to throw away that data when they're done with it? Of course not, that would be an ineffectual intelligence mechanism (god forbid). I'm afraid this technology is inevitable. In fact, I'd be very surprised if they're not already doing it to some extent.
  • I've been thinking about this for a little while. It currently would only cost on the order of tens of millions of dollars to record EVERY phone call made in the United States. It is totally possible that the NSA is ALREADY recording every single call we make, which would allow them to do retroactive surveillance just like this.

    A single 300 GB hard drive (like the one I bought new for $60) can record around 10 years of continuous phone conversations.
  • soon i wont have any electronic left that is not spying on me, jeeeze why would the government want to watch me in the privacy of my own home, is watching me scratch my ass while i walk around in my underwear - grazing for food in the kitchen that interesting???
  • Right now the US has the highest technology, most detailed surveillance, and most money. Yet we are tricked into believing false intelligence by the allegedly backwards countries of N. Korea and Iraq. The low tech Iraqi's regularly destroy our truck and planes, killing thousands of US citizens, all without a technological infrastructure. This proves one again that people and ingenuity can at least significantly annoy the high tech automatic systems. Dependence on automated system merely gives us the ill
    • by dbIII (701233)

      Right now the US has the highest technology, most detailed surveillance, and most money.

      It doesn't really help when the guy who speaks Farsi has to take a day off sick or a lot of intelligence staff are involved in complicated arrangements to ship suspects to secret locations for a bit of torture so various agencies can deny being involved in the actual atrocity. Some of that "highest technology" is unfortuately face recognition systems that don't work but are sold as silicon snake oil and the writer of W


  •   I think I am having a Deja Vu [wikipedia.org] moment here. Anyone else get the same feeling?
  • by pagerwho (1071772) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:23PM (#18233686)
    I have a special on tin foil hats. Buy two and I'll throw in a free government conspiracy guide free. Buy four and you'll get the government conspiracy guide, AND the book "UFO's Exist" for the low, low price of $19.95 plus shipping and handling. In other news, Bush finally figured out what a pentagon was.
  • The Fascism Show (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    Those spooks don't even know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites [dailykos.com].

    They're not fighting the Terror War (on terrorists, anyway). They're spying on Americans for political and financial control. Fascists. Meanwhile, there is real terrorism and other threats to security that these fools are neither competent or interested in handling.
  • I'd be amazed if they do not already have this capability. It is the one featured in a couple of 007 movies (one in Afghanistan and one in Mexico IIRC, you know they always "put it on the big screen"). Move a satellite (or a space shuttle) into position over a battlefield or terrorist take-down. Relay real-time video. The idea that nobody is recording that video stream is just dumb.

    Perhaps if I read the article I would have a better idea of what other domestic or military applications they are talking about
    • Real-time video monitoring from space is basically a no-no. You need low-altitude satellites and these are not geo-stationary and the possible coverage would be in the order of minutes. What is more realistic is real-time monitoring from a UAV. They can be very quiet and can remain for lengthy periods on-target.
  • Now, they just have more bullshit to fish through. Has it ever occurred to these chuckleheads that developing human intel source BEFORE an attack occurs might be a better approach?
  • ... someone in washington goes to watch "Déjà vu" one too many times...
  • by Joebert (946227)

    The Pentagon Wants a 'TiVo' to Watch You

    Go right ahead, however your recordings will not be viable in a court of law, my actions are protected by Digital Joebert Management.
  • The government allready has this technology. Don't you guys watch "24"?

    Nothing to see here (no pun intended). Move along.

  • If you analyse what you actually do when you "join the FON community" [fon.com] it's quite an audacious intelligence grab. You are given "for free" a wireless access point that offers a public as well as a "private" segment.

    Only, it isn't really for free and it's not really all that private either.

    It's not for free because you are serving your own (paid) bandwidth up to people who pass by, in exchange for the ability to do so elsewhere (in other words, you run the potential to offer bandwidth for man
  • Not new (Score:4, Informative)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Monday March 05, 2007 @06:23AM (#18235758)
    The military have been doing this (in a more limited fashion) for years. AFAIK it started with analogue VCRs being coupled to JSTARS radar output. With the VCR, they could track radar contacts (vehicles) over a longer period of time (hours).
    For this sort of surveillance to be useful, you'd have to have 24/7 overhead coverage, either radar or optical. That's not something they're going to be able to sneak into a non-battlefield area (i.e. the US). Also, JSTARS coverage of the entire US would be prohibitively expensive.

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