Comments: Big and Brotherly

> Although employees who work in the building are supposed to keep their
> presence there a secret, they regularly sport their DARPA id badges around
> their necks when eating at restaurants near the building. The straps
> attached to the badges are printed with "DARPA" in large letters.

That's the main DARPA building. For driving directions, see the DARPA web site:
It's not very surprising that folks there wear DARPA badges.

Should we congratulate Hampton and Thompson on their "discovery"? Or should we chip in and buy them each a new tinfoil hat?

I imagine parts of the article are actually true. But then again, a stopped watch gives the correct time twice a day.

More-reliable accounts of TIA are readily available. A useful compendium is:
et cetera.

Posted by John Denker at June 10, 2004 10:04 PM

The stream of bad news coming from the US looks with every passing day more like the Rhine in Rotterdam than like a moutain stream. This latest bit is particularly appalling for a reason that you may or may not have noticed, namely that it involves DARPA. Now, DARPA used to be a perfectly respectable research agency with a penchant for risk-taking that made it especially useful in an environment where research agencies have all but forgotten the meaning of risk-taking and only want to paper their ass. Thus, notwithstanding the fact that the Pentagon stood behind DARPA and that you had to be vigilant about a gradual drift into out- and-out weapons research, many basic researchers gladly did business with DARPA. Now it appears that it has been debased into another CIA-style latrin where the US govt has its filthy work done. The mind reels. Will there be no end to this nightmare?

Posted by Olivier at June 12, 2004 06:24 PM

Thoughts. There must be a movement or a community someplace, working to deliberately increase its use of the dreaded keywords, and everything else possible, to fill up the governments' databases with false positives. With some effort, the people countering Ashcroft might even be able to create big surges in " intelligence chatter".

Sigh. Too bad we can't trust them. Based on the actions of Bush/Cheney and Ashcroft, the DHS and TIA are a bigger threat to Americans than foreign terrorists. Not to mention the fact, there wouldn't be terrorists attacking buildings in NY at all, if the Bush/Cheney and company wasn't killing muslims by the thousands, in the middle east. And even if the DHC and TIA makes those buildings safer in NYC , why should *my* liberties be the price to be paid? When does NYC and these global corporations who caused the hate and the killing, pay their own bills?

Regarding federal logging of porn purchases, one must wonder why. To find people with predisposition to porn? and profile their flavors of porn? To find suspects in various types of sex crimes?

Whatever the reasons, this kind of database will obviously be used by some of its actors, to blackmail people. For example, people in high places, people in business, etc. "Hey- you're a vice president of [insert global corporation.] And you're watching these titles? Well, I want your company to (buy my product, contribute to my campaign, etc.etc.)

Posted by Todd at June 12, 2004 06:26 PM

Yes, I should stress in general that it is not really proven that DARPA are doing the TIA in secret. But it's a worrying development.

Todd, you are way ahead of this threat :-) Except in the issues of money, *any* basic encryption techniques will secure the infrastructure such that massive hoovering techniques will be stymied. It doesn't make anyone "secure" (think of Adi Shamir's first law of cryptography here: there are no secure systems!) but it moves the threat from a hoovering level to a targeting level.

Most people who are targetted are probably somewhat aware of this threat. The danger to civil society now is to the huge number of people who are going to be sucked up by the hoover.

Posted by Iang at June 13, 2004 05:38 AM

I am watching this development for some time now and with increasing wariness, almost fear. I have been following the Flight Passenger Data affair (EU/USA) in some detail and I'm wondering how the according institutions in the US plan to process all the Terabytes of data, how they plan to match it and how they plan to make their inference engines more reliable. Because that's what it is: inference. They have several possibly unrelated facts, try to squeeze them into a pattern and see if it matches. Big deal, big danger to the individual.

I'm happy to see that both prominent US citizens are standing up and warning against this. I'm also happy to see that more and more "normal" citizens are getting wary and warn against this, too.

Posted by Axel at June 14, 2004 03:12 AM

Another thing I should stress is that FC is not about politics and the state and bib brother per se. We are definately keen on real threats to the applications of finance.

In this context, we have, firstly, identity theft. This is likely to become massive once this sort of identity / credit builds up in the US economy. Pretty much all serious fraud, and most successful fraud happens inside. And, inside the TIA is going to a huge group of users, and they are going to do huge fraud. We FCers are going to have to protect our customers from that.

Secondly, the Internet itself will face a threat, which it will defeat. As the pressure mounts to route traffic into TIA, so the response will arise to divert the traffic safely past TIA. Out of this area will come new developments, new directions. TIA and the respone to it will describe a new generation of security software systems. Much as the 90s was obsessed with crypto export regulations, and the RIAA created Kazaa and Limewire, I think TIA will have important unintended consequences.

Posted by Iang at June 14, 2004 05:40 AM

Point taken about the political implications - I'll make sure to keep that down ;-)

However, the focus was different over here in Europe. Export regulations played only a role insofar as we made fun of the annoying regulations in the US :-)

Posted by Axel at June 15, 2004 02:25 AM
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