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DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme 256

Lifewish writes "The BBC is reporting that company MetaCarta is receiving DARPA cash to design a new system for tracking individuals based on their electronic presence. One company official is quoted as saying that 'The government and international security agencies have a desire to find, track and sometimes arrest people. Our system can be used to find them across the globe.' If you ever wondered where all that information the U.S. is collecting ended up..."
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DARPA Funds Internet Tracking Scheme

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  • by subjectstorm ( 708637 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:09AM (#8179577) Journal
    well, i just RTFA.

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

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

    if you need a reason to jam that tinfoil hat on a little tighter, just start asking yourself how much privacy you've actually got right now. these fine folks can already hear anything you say on a cell phone WITHOUT a wiretap order that they would have to justify. they can already nab everything that you say on the net. they can snap a shot of you from freaking orbit if they know where to look lol

    this program isn't a privacy issue. it's just making the gov a lot more efficient at what they were already doing - and THAT is the privacy issue.

    interestingly enough, to fool this system requires only that (when online) you:

    (A) refrain from mentioning geographic locations at all
    (b) mention the WRONG ones - like saying "mt vesuvius" when you actually mean "toledo"

    oh . . my . . . . god. i hope the terrorists didn't just read my post. DAMN MY HACKERESQUE POWERS OF GENIUS!
  • by hey ( 83763 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:11AM (#8179583) Journal
    We're all under house arrest now.
  • by NoGuffCheck ( 746638 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:14AM (#8179607)
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    nuff said!
  • by Anixamander ( 448308 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:38AM (#8179818) Journal
    This may seem a touch off topic, but if you are interested in helping fix some of the problems introduced by the PATRIOT act, you should urge your congressperson to support the SAFE act. Details and an easy way to send a fax to your congressperson here []

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Anyone who reads this should understand that there may be inaccuracies due to the fact that secret government agencies are sometimes able to keep their operations secret, or are able to mislead the public about what they have done. The information here has been reported many times by many well-respected news agencies, and is believed completely accurate.
  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:51PM (#8180469)
    Protection of privacy and right to free speech go hand in hand. Society is reaching the point where you wont have privacy, and won't leave an electronic trail when you buy the jock itch spray unless you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yee is in the military which means he has less rights than most, but he is a really good example of what might happen to you too if you let your government run amuck. Of course, its even more likely to happen to you if you try to keep your government from running amuck. This is Catch-23.
  • Re:Ugly choices (Score:5, Informative)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Robbie Gage ( 749151 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:45PM (#8181473)
    "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." --Thomas Jefferson

    "Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken