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New US Government Project To Monitor Electronic Communication 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the unseen-mechanized-eye dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PRODIGAL (Proactive Discovery of Insider Threats Using Graph Analysis and Learning) is a recently uncovered U.S. government program created in partnership with the Georgia Tech School of Computational Science and Engineering, ostensibly to monitor IMs, texts, and emails on government networks, is feared to be turned on the U.S. population at large. From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'"
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New US Government Project To Monitor Electronic Communication

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  • First post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaPA ... m minus language> on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:58AM (#38266576) Journal

    First entry into PRODIGAL database!

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:09PM (#38266742)

      People always get that bit confused. What it REALLY means is
      "A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

      Nice name for this program.

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        "A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

        Nice name for this program.

        Pretty much spot on. The nice lady from California doesn't mind her tax dollars going to pay some peeping tom to be bored of reading her email.

        • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:51PM (#38267352) Homepage Journal

          Well, this is the Twitter generation. The worst thing that can possibly happen to you nowadays is that no one cares to listen to anything you say...

          It used to be that ${God} would listen to everything you thought and prayed for, and that used to be enough to let people think their problems and concerns were being addressed. I think it's healthy to have that feeling replaced by the warm, comforting feeling that the government is watching you and might choose to intervene.

          Or at the very least, it would encourage people to actually start using encryption :-P

          • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:43PM (#38269086) Journal

            It used to be that ${God} would listen to everything you thought and prayed for, and that used to be enough to let people think their problems and concerns were being addressed. I think it's healthy to have that feeling replaced by the warm, comforting feeling that the government is watching you and might choose to intervene.

            I dunno, given the past few years, I'd say the government is about on par with God in terms of delivering on promises.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              I'd say the government is about on par with God in terms of delivering on promises.

              He's kept all the ones he made to me. Not so the government. The GP said "It used to be that ${God} would listen to everything you thought and prayed for", guess what? He still does. But you can't expect someone you don't even believe in to make promises, let alone keep them.

          • by Beorytis (1014777)

            Or at the very least, it would encourage people to actually start using encryption :-P

            Did that work with ${God}?

      • by russotto (537200)

        People always get that bit confused. What it REALLY means is
        "A person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way."

        ROTFL. Not being up on my bible, I thought that "prodigal" was related to "prodigy" and "prodigious" was the one which meant wasteful. But you're right, it's the other way around.

  • Encrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Neutral_Observer (1409941) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#38266614)
    Encrypt anything that goes "On Grid".
    • Re:Encrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Openstandards.net (614258) <slashdot AT openstandards DOT net> on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:03PM (#38266672) Homepage
      We've had the ability to encrypt email for years, and we battled for PGP, yet no one uses it. The question is how do you get people to encrypt email by default, particularly when it requires participation by both sides. Add this challenge to IM.
      • Re:Encrypt (Score:5, Funny)

        by Neutral_Observer (1409941) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:12PM (#38266792)
        I have been working on an application that makes this easy for every... hold on, someone is at the door.... ****carrier lost****
      • Re:Encrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DarkOx (621550) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#38266892) Journal

        Encryption may not help you here. When we get to talking about graph analysis and learning, suddenly who you are talking to becomes as interesting as what you are talking about.

        You might be identified as threat based sole on what would seem to be unusual information flows. For example, if someone in say HR is trading lots of mails with someone in accounting, an other person in inventory management, and finally a couple of warehouse shipping clerks, such a system might flag it as a possible theft conspiracy to steal inventory.

        It would be unusual for such a ad-hoc group to be exchanging information at high frequency, and might warrant scrutiny. You can discover that and flag it independent of the the messages being encrypted or not. It could be completely innocent of course, they might just be on the company volleyball team together. Still its an interesting technology.

        • That is very true. I believe there is an opportunity to anonymize communications via P2P technology. Sometimes, the best way to hide a sound is to create lots of noise. When all of our direct communications become meaningless due to the randomness of P2P, and our intended communications require a random number of P2P hops, and the process is protected with encryption, it becomes very difficult to discern the intended communications graph from the random P2P one.
        • Re:Encrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sloppy (14984) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:23PM (#38267878) Homepage Journal

          When we get to talking about graph analysis and learning, suddenly who you are talking to becomes as interesting as what you are talking about.

          No, it's interesting, but it's not as interesting. "Looks like he called his wife again," doesn't tell you a whole lot.

          Imagine you're trying to decide which house to burgle. Some sends a message to someone else who is planning a party. You really want to know if they said, "I'll be there and am bringing a few growlers of homebrew quadbock. We are getting so 'faced! Can I crash at your place?" or "sorry, can't make it. I'm teaching the kids how to recycle ammo brass that night."

        • by tatman (1076111)
          The fact that you use PGP could be enough to put you on the threat radar. Heck, I'll go as far as to say, the fact that I engaged in this conversation could be enough to me on it. I feel like I should be some old croney conspiracy theory freak when I speak like that, and yet......
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by glorybe (946151)
          For reasons not known or understood by me I am unfortunately aware that some arm of government does, and has for some time, collected in depth information about some people who have no criminal history at all nor have done anything considered wrong either. It gets rough when someone hands you some of that information and because of the life spans of people who apparently contributed that information it is obvious that it was compiled over a period of years and some effort was applied to knowing a
        • You might be identified as threat based sole on what would seem to be unusual information flows.

          And with the recent proposal that the government can arrest you and hold you indefinitely if they perceive you as a terror threat, just sending a text message encrypted might just land you in Guantanamo.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        Encryption is standard for XMPP now. Why it isn't for all the other protocols I have no idea. Regardless, unless the encryption keys are self signed the government can get a copy of them anyway. IMHO, your correct about PGP. It should be part of the signing up for an account process. Unfortunately, the most popular email clients don't give PGP any thought.

      • We've had the ability to encrypt email for years, and we battled for PGP, yet no one uses it.

        To use PGP to sign and encrypt webmail, users have to upload their private keys to the webmail server. Solve this and you might find more people using PGP.

        • Re:Private key (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:45PM (#38267224)
          There was an article here a couple of weeks ago about a browser plugin that managed your private keys and worked with webMail. I don't think many people are interested, which is unfortunate.
          • by tepples (727027)

            There was an article here a couple of weeks ago about a browser plugin that managed your private keys and worked with webMail.

            Good luck seeking permission to install that browser plug-in on all computing devices that you use, even if they're not full-size PCs. Wasn't Microsoft promising a plugin-free IE [msdn.com] in the Metro environment of Windows 8? And good luck seeking permission to install that browser plug-in on all PCs that you use but do not own, such as a PC in the break room at work, a PC in the library, a PC belonging to a relative whom you are visiting, etc.

      • "We've had the ability to encrypt email for years"

        That was never the issue, the problem is it was OPT IN, encryption should have been built in and on by default from the start. That's the real issue.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        Server communications is all that needs to be encrypted really. The end-user shouldn't have to do much, I simply don't allow POP and standard IMAP on my mail server and even SMTP has to have at least TLS encryption if you're going for port 25. The server-to-server communication for SMTP is a bit hairier (my server makes a best effort to either use SSL or TLS) but XMPP can be forced to only accept SSL/TLS encrypted connections.

        Off course if you decide to outsource management of any of those assets to 'the cl

    • A mildly pornographic jpg with an encrypted seganographic message, delivered via anonymous nntp posting, and the message ends with shred this using Gutmann.

      Encrypt your O/S
      Encrypt containers.
      Create hidden dummies
      use micro SDHC as HDD's
      Hide media in remotely deniable location.

      The Government is clearly up to no good!

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:03PM (#38266670) Homepage

    I interviewed for a major life insurance company. They already have the ability to monitor all that stuff (except for texts, but that seems trivial if you have access). I know for a fact a previous employer of mine had that capability and used it as well.

    The only interesting thing about this is they asked Georgia Tech to help instead of a more traditional defense-type contractor.

  • wrong images (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:06PM (#38266710) Homepage Journal

    "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

    There's your problem.

    People don't mind because they don't understand what is really going on. With this or any other privacy intrusion (ignoring if this particular one is real or not).

    Cherie, no human being is reading your mails. Computers with natural language engines are, and they are searching for and generating patterns. Human beings come in long afterwards. They don't get to read your mails, what they get is a summary of your preferences, opinions, buying habits, and probably some kind of score indicating (depending on who is doing the spying) if you're a good customer, a potential terrorist, have the right political agenda, etc. etc.

    The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

    • Re:wrong images (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tatman (1076111) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:09PM (#38266750) Homepage
      Scary isn't it. No one will care until it becomes a problem for themselves; then they wonder what happened....
      • Re:wrong images (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spidercoz (947220) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:20PM (#38267816) Journal
        I care. I try to educate people. They look at me like I'm off my nut.
        • by tatman (1076111)
          Isn't that the truth. In fact, I often feel like Im being judged as someone that has something to hide because I speak up about it. I guess what I meant by "no one will care" is the very large majority do not. I have no statistics but I like its 99.99% do not care, cannot see the dangers, do not think it can or will happen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BMOC (2478408)
      Future TSA worker:

      "Ah, you can't fly, in fact, I'm supposed to arrest you. Come here please."

      "Oh, you say this is a mistake?"

      "Don't worry, this is just a result of a feature with a work-around. I'm sure they'll fix these bugs in CIA 2.0. In the meantime, enjoy your stay in Leavenworth."

    • And, heaven forbid she ever becomes a political "problem". You can be sure that any negative iota of information gleaned from scanning her communications will find its way to a media outlet.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

      s/can/will/g because that would compromise the inputs and the scoring algorithm. If you generate enough fuss then perhaps you'll get yourself whitelisted (and put on another list of people to watch anyway) but you probably have to reveal twice as much personal information to do it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:54PM (#38267408)

      Cherie Anderson:
      Anderson, nordic last name: aryan flag, militia flag, christian flag, racial solidarity flag

      Person match:
      Slashdot, an open techno-social resistance site: knowledge flag, ideals flag, subversion flag, networking flag, anonymous flag, hacking flag, criticism flag, hub flag, unusual interests flag
      Discovery, an unredacted popular science site: knowledge flag, inspiration flag, networking flag, science flag, news flag, hub flag, unusual interests flag
      Travel agency AB7311C2, a "prime interest" industry: owner flag, subversion flag, knowledge flag, hub flag, transportation flag, capabilities flag, insider flag, resources flag, moneylaundering flag, financial flag, offensive category 111F flag, defensive category 02B3 flag

      Quotations:
      Flagged words: Patriot Act, death
      Pattern counts: 2 "I"'s per sentence, narcissist flag

      Location:
      California: troublemaker flag, insolvency flag, social unrest flag, extremism flag

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by c6gunner (950153)

      The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

      No, no, and HELL no. Your paranoid-delusions in no way reflect reality. The no-fly list at this point contains some 10,000 names. That's one out of every 30,000 americans. As a comparison, the "Terrorist Watch List" contains 400,000+ names. So, even though the the vast majority of the people on the terrorist-watch-list don't make the "no fly list", you expect me to believe that computer algorithms are automatically putting people on it based on innocent e-mails?

      STFU. Seriously.

      Yes, this system, like E

      • Re:wrong images (Score:5, Informative)

        by CarbonShell (1313583) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:14PM (#38267724)

        Uhm, wasn't Sen. Kennedy on the No-Fly list at one time? Not to mention people like Robert J. Johnson, John Lewis

        or

        Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that the following exchange took place at Newark on 1 March 2007, where he was denied a boarding pass "because I [Professor Murphy] was on the Terrorist Watch list." The airline employee asked, "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." "I explained," said professor Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution." To which the airline employee responded, "That'll do it."

        source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Fly_List [wikipedia.org]

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          So let me get this straight ... your evidence that the list is being abused hinges on the off-the-cuff remark of an anonymous airport employee?

          Why don't you think about that for a minute and then get back to me.

          Also, it's worth pointing out that the wikipedia page - and the article it quotes as a source - selectively quote the incident in order to make it appear as if McCormick was denied entry to the plane. This is false. He was selected for secondary screening. I find it amusing that he made such a big

          • Re:wrong images (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:07PM (#38268490)

            [Sarcasm] I'm absolutely sure that any misuse was just a complete misunderstanding. [More more likely never, ever happened.]

            I mean really, counter-intelpro, Iran Contra, Watergate, due-process free assassination of US citizens [on exclusive executive branch say-so] are all just pure misunderstanding. We'd never really do something wrong. [I mean, if the president does it, it, *by definition,* it isn't illegal.]
            [/Sarcasm]

            The Prima facie case of misuse is that it's a "black" program.

            1) The rules for getting on the list are secret.
            2) How you get off is secret.
            3) Who is on the list is secret.

            Secret rules for secret laws for a secret government = abuse.

            That is pretty much all that needs to be said. When people [pretty much any people] are allowed carte-blanche to do as they will, abuses will occur.

            The only way that is [sometimes] prevented or rectified is accountability to the populace.

            Once accountability is lost - and believe me, secret laws, and secret programs, by secret police because we must be *scared*, very *scared* causes a loss of accountability - once that accountability is lost, then abuses happen. It's just a forgone conclusion.

            Examine the written history of man.

            So, while you may want to demand evidence - I say there is no need.

            Abuses happen when the laws, and their enforcement and prosecution are secret. Not might happen, just will and do happen.

            Anyone who takes even the most cursory examination of history will very quickly come to that conclusion. Thus, your asking "show me the evidence" - I think it shows that either
            1) You're woefully uninformed about the nature of people
            or
            2) You're just a shill for whatever abusive authoritarian structure is currently in place and feign ignorance of the results of such policies.

            If it's option #1 - I pity you. You're a stupid git and simply can't grasp that fact.
            If it's option #2 - they I pity me, since you're likely to place me on one of those secret list, based on secret laws written by our secret government. [Because, it's clear, I'm a subversive threat!]

            • I wish I had mod points today. :(

            • by c6gunner (950153)

              How in the world does this garbage get modded up? Apparently all it takes for an insightful mod is a mention of various government programs which constantly get misrepresented by conspiracy morons, followed by a long-winded, factually incorrect, paranoia-fueled rant, concluding with "I DON'T NEED TEH EVIDENCE!!!!".

              This guy should be medicated, not encouraged. Those of you modding him up should be ashamed.

        • In most modern countries you get a trial before you get punished for stuff. You get to face your accuser in court, with lawyers and a judge. The government should not have the power to punish you without going through that. I believe the U.S. constitution even mentions due process.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      " Computers with natural language engines are, and they are searching for and generating patterns. Human beings come in long afterwards. They don't get to read your mails, what they get is a summary of your preferences, opinions, buying habits, and probably some kind of score indicating (depending on who is doing the spying) if you're a good customer, a potential terrorist, have the right political agenda, etc. etc."
      Funny but I doubt that the government cares too much about your buying habits.

      I said this ab

    • Wasn't the premise of that movie that some systems are becoming so complex that they are doing things nobody wished for and nobody knows about?
    • The 1984 "Big Brother" concept is 1984 - in the 21st century, you will not be arrested because some office drone in the ministry of truth read through all your e-mails and decided you're a bad person. No, in the 21st century you get put on the No Fly List and nobody can friggin' explain to you why , because the reason, as far as the humans involved are concerned, is that some score in some automated system crossed a threshold value.

      For the life of me I don't understand why LEA would share such a valuable feedback channel with terrorists... Am I on the no fly list? ... How about now? .. Now? .. Now??? ... Seriously still not on your list?

    • There's another problem with that attitude. Lets say that you are only doing boring things but some computer, misinterprets your communications because you are using code words for terrorist communications. All of a sudden, you are wrongly put on a watch list and you have no way of knowing it. Whenever you go to the airport, you are subject to extreme security checks and you wonder why. The real problem is that you might not even know that you are on some watch list because of the secrecy allowed by so

  • Not News (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Prodigal86sc (912039) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:06PM (#38266722)
    The NSA has been doing this since 2003, probably before. It's extra creepy that DARPA is now in on the act, but that's about it. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/04/70619 [wired.com]
    • by forkfail (228161)

      Well - assuming that the NSA has/is doing it on a large scale that long, then it occurs that this could just be a case of slow information dissemination, which works well when you want folks to become slowly acclimated to an idea that they would initially find completely unacceptable.

  • Money better spent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FellowConspirator (882908) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:18PM (#38266878)

    The thing is, as crime goes, terrorism is rare and the threat hasn't change appreciably in 50 years ( no matter what the evening news says ). The type of criminal activity in the US and international finance industries, however, is unprecedented and capable of causing far more damage. Unfortunately, we don't bring as many resources to bear on the greater threat to the country.

    • Except that this will not be used to police businesses; businesses will just encrypt all their emails. The point of this sort of monitoring is to police the lower-level crimes: drug smuggling, child exploitation, violations of embargoes, etc. Most black market transactions that are negotiated or conducted entirely on the Internet are done without encryption or using very poor encryption systems (e.g. Hushmail) because they tend to involve less educated people (or perhaps less tech-savvy people).
    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      The type of criminal activity in the US and international finance industries, however, is unprecedented and capable of causing far more damage. Unfortunately, we don't bring as many resources to bear on the greater threat to the country.

      Because the former controls the latter.

  • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:19PM (#38266890)
    I know we're supposed to look down on Reddit as Slashdot-lite, but someone posted an interesting question [reddit.com] there yesterday:

    The ghost of Plato offers you one of two pills. If you take the blue pill, from now on your government will precisely represent the will of its people. If you take the red pill, your country will be seized by an intelligent dictator whose political views are identical to yours. Which will it be?

    It's almost a difficult choice until you read things like "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind", and then you realize you'd grab the red pill so fast you'd yank Plato's arm off. Participatory government is dead.

    • I'll take the orange pill: an intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind.
      • by russotto (537200)

        I'll take the orange pill: an intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind.

        I'll take the orange and red striped pill: An intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind, but whose actions are just different enough from optimum to ensure that me and mine get to live the good life. And so the corruption begins ;-)

        • I'll take the orange and red striped pill: An intelligent dictator whose views are what's best for humankind, but whose actions are just different enough from optimum to ensure that me and mine get to live the good life.

          You and yours are humankind.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:13PM (#38267704) Homepage

      Everybody would like a dictator that rules "their way" because everyone else is stupid and wrong, in fact it's a thinly veiled way of asking if you'd like to become that dictator yourself. Except that's not how it works, because everyone can take the blue pill and have their fair share of democracy but only one person gets to pick the red pill. So the question is, would you really take a lottery where one person gets to appoint a dictator for life? I mean you could get lucky, but you might also want a one-way plane ticket out of there before your new randomly-chosen overlord closes the border. Weird as it sounds, the politicians you have are actually moderates compared to what you could get.

      Besides, if you want that dictatorship to not get overthrown in the first five minutes, that dictator has to cease control and keep it - people don't obey by magic. You might find that even if you are doing the "right thing" and have the people's best interest at heart, what you have to do to force it upon them actually makes the cure worse than the problem. It won't be long before your dictator passes mass surveillance laws of his own - for the people's own good, of course. Nothing like a government that's decided they're right and the people wrong, surely some reeducation camps will make people understand. That's worked so well in the past.

    • Participatory government is dead.

      Indeed. Forget about a representative democracy, 9/11 has put the goal of a totalitarian bureaucracy in America quite over the top for the richest ~100,000 families who actually control the world. The final peice is in place- now we get the fruits of that labor. Watch now for the main goal to be set in motion- population control. These people are using every trick in the book- 9/11, the global warming myth, etc, to effect this goal. Read William Engdahl, anything you can find. This guy is the only person I'

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Democracy isn't some panacea. As Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."

      The problem isn't that the red pill is a wrong choice, the problem is that there are no benevolent dictators, or at least no reliable supply of them. (Yes, I know the question said intelligent, but presumably the intelligence would be used benevolently, otherwise we already have plenty of countries with intelligent, but not particularly benevolent, dictators.)

    • The ghost of Plato offers you one of two pills. If you take the blue pill, from now on your government will precisely represent the will of its people. If you take the red pill, your country will be seized by an intelligent dictator whose political views are identical to yours. Which will it be?

      No contest; I'd take the red pill. Of course, my political leanings are such that the "intelligent dictator" would be a pure figurehead, uninterested in exercising any actual political power. It's a bit hard to complain seriously about a "dictator" forever bound from interfering.

      The problem with the first option is that "the will of the people" far outstrips "the standing of the people"; in other words, a truly representative government with no other boundaries would exert its will in all kinds of situation

  • it does matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Killer Instinct (851436) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:20PM (#38266900) Journal
    In the old days, the ATF would just make up some charges against you (meth, guns), keep the press/news 2 miles away from your compound (Waco) and charge in shooting and setting fires to a building with your family in it. Now they can say "we have a report from our security system" that you are a threat. They dont even need to make up anything as a cover story, you are on a list..'nuf said. Theres a saying ive seen on here, around the net goes like this "when they came for the Jews, I didnt say anything because i wasnt a jew. when they came for the gays, i didnt say anything because I wasnt gay. Now they are coming for me, and theres no one left to say anything". The point is, with a system in place like this it is too easy to abuse and we are one step closer the end. And we cant stop it now, without a lot of people getting really upset, the very thing this system will detect and prevent. We are at the point now where we decide the next step in our evolution. Up until now, evolution had a pretty decent set of "rules" where the species that evolved certain traits, stuck around longer. At this point a system like this will make sure someone's idea of the next generation, will be followed, circumventing natural selection, and probably guaranteeing the human race, as we know it, will cease to exist.

    -KI
    • Re:it does matter (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:19PM (#38267802)

      Theres a saying ive seen on here, around the net


              First they came for the Communists,
              but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.

              Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,
              but I was neither, so I did not speak out.

              Then they came for the Jews,
              but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.

              And when they came for me,
              there was no one left to speak out for me.

      Martin Niemoller [raoulwallenberg.net]

  • Whenever you see "Graph Analysis and Learning" you know they are teaching an AI system to make judgments. This literally is a system designed to decide if a human is a threat. All it needs is the ability to make a sound when it finds someone guilty.

  • by anorlunda (311253) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:38PM (#38267134) Homepage

    I've assumed that the US government has been intercepting all our communications since they first had the technical ability. Why? Because of the 911 commission. Goverment really reacts and overreacts to that kind of stinging criticism that they didn't protect us.

    What should we expect from them today? I expect that as soon as they find a terrorism suspect, that they are able to review his/her communications retrospectively; and also those whom he/she had contact with and so on 3 plys deep. To do that, they need an archive of everyone's messages 100% of the time, because they can't know in advance whose they want to review in the future.

    I too hate big brother and I hate invasions of my privacy. However, it is unrealistic to expect the feds to not fully exploit 21st century technology. If we were smart, we would give up on trying to restrict what data they gather and focus on restricting what they can do with gathered information.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by c6gunner (950153)

      I've assumed that the US government has been intercepting all our communications since they first had the technical ability.

      I look at this the same way I might view a person who said to me "I've always assumed that an invisible Bigfoot watches me whenever I masturbate".

      What should we expect from them today? I expect that as soon as they find a terrorism suspect, that they are able to review his/her communications retrospectively; and also those whom he/she had contact with and so on 3 plys deep. To do that, they need an archive of everyone's messages 100% of the time, because they can't know in advance whose they want to review in the future.

      Also, they're flying interstellar UFO's out of area 51. And don't forget the Alien Autopsies.

      C'mon man ... REALLY? This is a tech-site. I know a lot of us are sci-fi fans, too, but primarily we're supposed to be tech geeks. How in the world could anyone who is familiar with modern technology convince themselves that the US government has the capabilities you'v

      • by surgen (1145449) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:49PM (#38269196)

        I've assumed that the US government has been intercepting all our communications since they first had the technical ability.

        I look at this the same way I might view a person who said to me "I've always assumed that an invisible Bigfoot watches me whenever I masturbate".

        Given the US government has given themselves the ability to perform wholesale monitoring of communications (Room 641A is the easiest proof to point to), we must also posit that there is an invisible Bigfoot, and that he frequently watches people masturbate.

      • by anorlunda (311253)

        Your imagination is seriously dated. Are you aware that we no longer use punched cards?

        A database with 10GB per person for 300 million Americans needs only 3 exabytes (if I calculate correctly). That's hardly science fiction. Hell, Oracle will sell you one this afternoon, just pick up your phone and put it on your Visa card. Given the resources of NSA, it would be pocket change to archive that much data. Space probe projects are planning to use that much data per project.

  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:46PM (#38267228)

    From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'"

    What an idiot. The problem is not a boring civil servant reading her emails and at most noting "oh how interesting, someone ordered flowers for Charles Manson again". The problem is her competitor donating money to a politicians campaign and inadvertently getting a copy of her emailed sales plan. The problem is a subcontractor of a contractor getting a copy of all emailed credit card numbers, ID thefting them, and she must be to blame, after all, she is the "only" common link. The problem is the civil servant's drug addicted gang member brother getting a copy of her bank statements, and noticing she makes all her weekly cash deposits at 3 pm on wednesdays, and being california, he's heavily armed, and she is completely disarmed. The problem is she tries to negotiate a better contract with her flower supplier, but thru "national technical means" her flower supplier has a copy of all her emailed communication with her accountant, and knows exactly how much profit he can extract from her. The problem is her local political muscle noticing via emailed sales figures that she is not donating the "correct" percentage of gross revenue to the politicians re-election campaign. The problem is the police notice, and blame her, when recipients of her "welcome home" gift baskets have their houses broken into and ransacked after the basket is ordered and before the basket arrives. The problem is she dates a police officer, it doesn't work out, she gets stalked by a guy with total electronic access to her life. Or a disgruntled client happens to work at the station, and has access to all her future emailed delivery plans, and knows just the dark alley to drag her into, and via the emailed schedule, knows just the right time to grab her.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Rombuu (22914)

      So basically there is nothing realistic to worry about.. Got it. Just the normal paranoid delusions of the slashdot wacko crowd.

  • I and millions of others protest at the US governments shameful, illegal actions worldwide and increasingly what it is doing to it's own people. With this in place, there would effectively be no opposition, and you'll be in a police state quicker than you can say nazi.
  • FTFS:

    "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

    What a give away! Add her to "The List"! That should fire all analysis triggers!

    I'm not really sure what they are planning with this new "boring" weapon, but it appears to be deadly.

    Maybe it is an acronym: B.O.R.I.N.G . . . ? We'd better investigate . . .

  • "From the article: 'Cherie Anderson runs a travel company in southern California, and she's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."'

    I recall reading something like this in the beginning of a book I recently finished reading. It was called "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

    Very insightful book I must add.

    This is a very slippery path we're

  • by blueg3 (192743) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:55PM (#38267436)

    The purpose of ADAMS is to detect insider threats. The data is easy to collect because the organization doing the analysis also owns the computer systems that are being used.

    While a government organization might be spying on the American public, that problem is orthogonal to this research effort. (Also, that government organization is probably not DARPA, SAIC, or Georgia Tech.) You'd be hard-pressed to even apply the algorithms they're developing to a such a large and varied population because of the high false positive rate.

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:55PM (#38267440)

    My private communications should be kept between myself, my closest friends, and my sysadmin [slashdot.org].

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:48PM (#38268234) Homepage

    [S]he's convinced the federal government is reading her emails. But she's all right with that. "I assume it's part of the Patriot Act and I really don't mind," she says. "I figure I'm probably boring them to death."

    Anyone who's okay with the federal government reading their email should likewise be okay with a random stranger reading their e-mail. The government doesn't have any more need-to-know than anyone else, *especially* if you're doing nothing wrong. The argument that they are ruling people out as non-threats is fallacious: if you were ruled out, there would be no need for further monitoring, which tells us what should be obvious: that people are never ruled out.

    So if you're really okay with the government reading your email, go ahead and put your money where your mouth is, and post all of your sent and received messages somewhere that's publicly viewable. After all, there's a chance the government might miss something, and if it saves even one life, it's worth it, right? Right?!

  • if anyone is interested in helping edit the wikipedia article on this program, please come join me.

  • anyone who doesn't match the 'code' will be ostracized.

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