Category Archives: Tech

Holder says WikiLeaks under criminal investigation


(AP) – 54 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will prosecute anyone found to have violated U.S. law in the leaks of classified government documents by online whistleblower WikiLeaks, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.

“This is not saber-rattling,” said the attorney general, who declared that the Obama administration condemns the leaks.

Holder said the latest disclosure, involving classified State Department documents, puts at risk the security of the nation, its diplomats, intelligence assets and U.S. relationships with foreign governments.

“To the extent that we can find anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law, who put at risk the assets and the people I have described, they will be held responsible; they will be held accountable,” Holder said at a news conference on another topic. He called the WikiLeaks probe “an active, ongoing criminal investigation.”

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John Tyner Tells TSA agents, Don’t ‘Touch My Junk’


John Tyner Tells TSA agents, Don’t ‘Touch My Junk’

Here’s the original video uncut with no commercials:

(Nov. 15) — A California man got thrown out of San Diego’s airport when he refused a revealing full-body scan and then an alternative pat-down, telling a Transportation Security Agent, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

John Tyner, 31, said he was told he could face a civil lawsuit and a $10,000 fine for leaving the screening area before the security check was complete, according to news reports and his blog.

Tyner captured his dust-up with TSA officials in cell phone recordings now going viral, highlighting the issue of privacy and the debate over the latest screening technology.

“It seems like it struck a chord,” Tyner, a software engineer from Oceanside, Calif., told the North County Times. “I think people are tired of having their rights stripped away, especially in the face of not very improved security.”

Tyner’s story began Saturday morning when he went to San Diego International Airport for a flight to South Dakota for a pheasant-hunting trip with his father-in-law, according to The San Diego-Union-Tribune.

At first, he balked at submitting to a full-body scan, according to his blog and news reports. He told the newspaper he was surprised to learn the airport had the machines because the airport’s website said it did not.

He opted for the metal detector and basic pat-down, but refused the latter after learning it involved a “groin check.”

“I looked him straight in the eye and said, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested,” he wrote on his blog.

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More agents arrived, and one told Tyner he could be fined and subject to a lawsuit if he didn’t complete the screening, the North County Times said.

His cell phone video, which captured just the audio, received more 179,000 YouTube hits early today.

“The whole thing just seemed ridiculous. … I don’t intend to fly until these machines go away,” he told CNN.

TSA Administrator John Pistole defended the system today, saying that all passengers want to know that their fellow fliers have been properly screened for weapons like box cutters, liquid explosives or a shoe or underwear bomb.

“Everybody wants the best possible security,” Pistole said on NBC’s “Today” show. “The question is, What’s that blend or balance, if you will, between security, safety and privacy? While we remain sensitive to people with those concerns, the system we have set up addresses those concerns and provides the best possible security.”..continue to source


Military wants to scan emails to find internal threats. Pre-Crime 1.0


By Charley Keyes, CNN National Security Producer
October 27, 2010
The Pentagon wants computers to see into the future — and stop crimes before they happen.

As the U.S Army considers whether Maj. Nidal Hasan, the suspect in last year’s Fort Hood massacre, should face a court-martial, it also is looking at whether the military missed signals that might have indicated what was about to happen.

Now a Pentagon research arm is asking scientists to create a way to scan billions of e-mails to identify suspects in advance so that crimes can be stopped before they are committed.

That’s the goal of the latest $35 million project announced by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is credited with breakthroughs like the internet, GPS and stealth technology.

But this latest idea is already is drawing fire from privacy and security experts.

In a request for proposals, the think tank highlights the Fort Hood shootings.

“Each time we see an incident like a soldier in good mental health becoming homicidal or suicidal or an innocent insider becoming malicious, we wonder why we didn’t see it coming,” DARPA says. “When we look through the evidence after the fact, we often find a trail — sometimes even an “obvious” one. The question is: Can we pick up the trail before the fact, giving us time to intervene and prevent an incident.”

The agency calls the project ADAMS, for “Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales.”

Simply tracking messages to and from people around a single location like Fort Hood would be a vast task. There are 65,000 people at Fort Hood and in a single year they may create 4.68 billion electronic messages between almost 15 million people.

The challenge is to cope with and get accurate results from all this data.

The agency said it would primarily use ADAMS to look at “trusted person(s) in a secure environment with access to sensitive information and information systems and sources.”

“There are currently no established techniques for detecting anomalies in data sets of this size at acceptable false positive rates,” the agency notes in the request for proposals.

“The focus is on malevolent insiders that started out as ‘good guys.’ The specific goal of ADAMS is to detect anomalous behaviors before or shortly after they turn,” the agency says. “Operators in the counterintelligence community are the target end-users for ADAMS insider threat detection technology.”

Even more than the technological challenges, the project raises both policy and legal implications, according to James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He says DARPA and the U.S. government have been struggling for a while with how to use computer software to screen millions of transactions, something credit card companies already do.

“But credit card companies can screen your transactions because you’ve entered into a contract with them and because it is in your interest to keep your account safe. The same isn’t necessarily true for e-mail,” Lewis said in an e-mail.

“If you are sending e-mail from your work account, your company has the right to screen it. But if you are sending it from your personal account, no one has the right to screen it unless they get a court order, and getting the court order requires some sort of advance knowledge of malicious intent, which defeats the purpose of screening, Lewis said.

Bruce Schneier, author of “Secrets and Lies” and other books on security technology, criticized the DARPA idea as “un-American” and a police state ploy.

“This is what a police state does — everyone watching what everyone does and the police watching your every move,” Schneier told CNN in a telephone interview. “And what we learn from history is that police states never work. It never is safer.”

He added, “We are American. We don’t spy on everybody else. And as a security guy, it works great in the movies but in real life you aren’t going to be any safer. … The false claims are going to kill you.”

DARPA doesn’t like to talk about this or other pending projects. One person affiliated with the agency who insisted on anonymity because this person lacked authorization to speak to journalists, said the agency admits there are unresolved questions, including “How do you do this without invading privacy.”

“It’s too early to comment,” the person said. “… We rarely talk about a DARPA program as an idea until it’s become a full-fledged program of record.”

Government Security News, which first reported on the project, compares it to the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report.” That science fiction film from Steven Spielberg was based on the premise that computers had kept the city of Washington murder-free for six years by using “astounding technology” to predict crimes and discover about-to-be criminals.

An earlier DARPA plan, called Total Information Awareness, run by a former national security adviser, Adm. John Poindexter, was developed months after the 9/11 attacks to identify terrorists by combing through huge amounts of credit card, financial, travel and other electronic information. After a uproar over privacy and before it was implemented, the project was scrapped by Congress in 2003.

Similar data mining projects are used by U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor international threats…Read entire article


Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”


Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, has described his company’s policy: “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

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Schmidt was talking to The Atlantic about the possibility of a Google implant – a chip under your skin that would track you and provide easy web access. That, Schmidt said, was probably over ‘the creepy line’.

However, he followed that by saying: “With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

Some might argue that that is over the line too but Google will only read your mind “with your permission”, so that’s a relief.

Schmidt has a history of attention-grabbing and quotable statements about Google’s increasing, err, creep into our lives. There was the time that he said: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Recently he has suggested that young people might in future change their names so as to escape their Google-able past.

Last month he muttered cryptically about having “other ways” to get access to Facebook’s data should the social network decline to let Google index it.

Schmidt’s comments often sound like those of a man speaking off the cuff, and perhaps saying a little more than he should. Maybe that’s what they are but I’m not sure. I spent some time with Schmidt earlier this year and since then I’ve heard him repeat in other interviews – almost word-for-word – answers that he gave me. I think Schmidt has thought very carefully about these issues and he’s very clear on the message he wants to give.

Google makes some wonderful products. I use many of them, including Gmail, Google Reader and, of course, search. However, their attitude towards our private data is a cause for concern, not least because Google tends to make its services ‘opt-out’, rather than ‘opt-in’, which means that the permission Schmidt talks about will be given implicitly.

While Google is honest about wanting to “get right up to the creepy line”, it would also suit them if that line could be pushed ever further back. Schmidt’s comments play a tiny role in helping that process along. I would bet that in a decade the line will have been pushed even further. In the meantime, though, there will be a lot more court challenges and protests as Google slowly gets its way.

It’s tempting to suggest that Eric Schmidt should keep quiet instead of stirring people up every few months but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.