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Archive | September, 2003

TIA is Dead

Here is an article over at Wired magazine that discusses the demise of the Terrorism Information Awareness program that is part of DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). This program was begun within the last two years with the goal of being able to search and cross-reference vast quantities of information in multiple databases to try and detect terrorist and other criminal activity by Americans and foreign nationals on American soil.

The program was once called Total Information Awareness, but because of the intense political fallout over privacy and civil liberties concerns, the name was changed recently to Terrorism Information Awareness. The project was the brain child of John Poindexter, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, who resigned from that post because of his involvement in Iran-Contra. He has since resigned from DARPA because of the backlash over TIA.

The death of the pogram occurred as a result of language in the new 2004 defense appropriations bill that disbanded the Information Awareness Office in DARPA, which was developing the program. The bill did leave open the possibility that the tools already developed could be used in searching for foreign sources of terrorism. Some of the tools, the ability to automatically translate foreign-language documents and broadcasts, wargames software to model potential terrorist activities and the possible responses, and software to detect bioterrorism more rapidly, were given funding to continue at DARPA.

This is a good day for civil liberties and other privacy concerns. I am as yet undecided about whether I think it is a good day for the safety of Americans. The potential for abuse of such a system as TIA is extremely high. In general, I am opposed to the idea of actively seeking to cross reference so many disparate sources of data. It is too tempting for law enforcement to abuse the system. Further, what would prevent a pattern from emerging that targeted an innocent person? While this type of program is not close to the psychic interception of murder that is presented in Steven Speilberg’s, The Minority Report, it is certainly headed down a path that could potentially lead to the legalized harrasment of innocent Americans doing nothing but going about their daily lives in a way that triggered some sort of pattern to watch.

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Windows XP WPA Support

Here is a link to the download location for the Windows XP WPA client. This client is necessary for Windows XP to support the new WPA protocol for wireless security. If you would like to read more from the Microsoft Knowledge Base about the download, you can follow this link. I will try and post some more information on the WPA protocol in a future post. I do recommend that any user who actively uses wireless networking download and install this patch as well as the appropriate patch for your wireless access point’s firmware, if one is available.

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Hush PC

images/ATXBlackAllPortsSideShotI just found the website for Hush Technologies that has some of what I believe to be the most exciting new designs for desktop PC’s that I have seen. The newest design, announced at Computex, provides P4 processors with no fans – even in the power supply.

There is an article over at PCWorld that discusses what they saw at the show. According to PCWorld, the pricing on the Hush ATX is going to be higher than what you might expect to pay for a comparable desktop based on a more conventional design. I believe the price might just be right for someone seeking a sleek design for their PC.

Keep reading for a detailed breakdown on the preliminary specifications of this device.

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The JetBlue Privacy Debacle

Here is a well-reasoned opinion piece over at CNET News. It discusses the issues around JetBlue’s recent admission that it provided information on over 5 million passengers to a Defense Department contractor for a data-mining project. The piece points out a need to update the Privacy Act of 1974, which provides for safeguards on government-controlled computerized data, but provides no control at all for government access to privately-held data. After reading the article, you may want to contact your US Representative and/or Senator and recommend they consider such changes. There is also a link to a mirrored site containing the details on the data-mining project itself.

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I found this link over at Leo Laporte’s site. Glad to know Compaq solved this one for us once and for all.

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Comcast Broadband Limit – What is it?

Here is an article I just read over at CNET News. It outlines an increasingly common scenario wherein broadband providers, particularly the Cable companies, impose limits on their subscribers. The particularly egregious issue with Comcast’s policy is that the limit is not set at a particular number anywhere – even if you call them.

Read on to get more information on Comcast’s usage policy. (I chose them because I am a subscriber.)

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AOL Time Warner drops AOL from name | CNET News.com

Here is an article over at CNET News that discusses the vote today by AOL Time Warner to drop AOL from the name. I think AOL customers should pay attention to this news. It indicates that the board of directors has come to identify the dominant force in the market as the Time Warner portion of the business, not AOL. Rumors have floated about potentially selling AOL off. Follow the link for more.

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Good news from Capitol Hill

Here is an article over at Infoworld about the US House doing the right thing on Internet taxation. I agree that states and other taxing authorities have the right to tax things on the Internet, as long as the tax is not unique to the Internet. Now on to the Senate.

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Ever heard of the AARC?

Neither had I until today. I was reading a little bit over at the website Boycott RIAA, and they mentioned an organization called the AARC. Being relatively objective, I wanted to make sure their facts were straight, so I did a little searching. Read on to find out how absolutely flabergasted I was to find out that the recording studios and artists have been getting royalties on every digital recording device (read CDRW drive, DVDR drive, Mini-disc player, etc…) and every piece of digital recording media (read blank CD’s, DVD’s, minidiscs, etc…) that gets sold in the United States.

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A little note of hipocracy from the RIAA

Here is a link to the second page of an article over at the NY Times. I found this one posted over at Slashdot and read the whole thing. I find it amusing that a music industry executive would be caught doing the same thing he is insisting other individuals be prosecuted for. Here is the important blip relating to the copying:

When Mr. Bernoff asked the executive how he had gotten the report, which Forrester sells for $895, the man hesitated.

“They got a copy from one of the studios,” Mr. Bernoff said. “Here is an organization that’s saying that stealing hurts the little people, and they took our intellectual property and they shuttled it around like a text file.”

What’s good for the goose…

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