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Friday, June 09, 2006

Pentagon to harvest data from MySpace?

Well this is hardly surprising. From NewScientist.com:

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Frankly, I find this article kind of clunky and difficult to follow. Essentially it sounds like the NSA is considering this, but hasn't implemented any programs yet. It ends thusly:

Privacy groups worry that "automated intelligence profiling" could sully people's reputations or even lead to miscarriages of justice - especially since the data from social networking sites may often be inaccurate, untrue or incomplete, De Roure warns.


But Tim Finin, a colleague of Joshi's, thinks the spread of such technology is unstoppable. "Information is getting easier to merge, fuse and draw inferences from. There is money to be made and control to be gained in doing so. And I don't see much that will stop it," he says.


Callas thinks people have to wise up to how much information about themselves they should divulge on public websites. It may sound obvious, he says, but being discreet is a big part of maintaining privacy.

I think it's creepy that the government wants to spy on MySpace. On the other hand, I second the statement about being discreet if you want privacy.

I also think it's a little absurd to expect terrorists to create MySpace groups like "Learning to fly (wink wink)." I mean, are radical Islamists really going to blog about their experiences at terrorist training camps? Are they going to friend their fellow hijackers? Does anyone believe that catching them could really be that simple?

On a somewhat unrelated note, I finally followed my own advice and opened a MySpace account last night, so that all of my former classmates and exes and potential blog readers can find me. I've been tinkering with my profile ever since. Social networking sites are so addictive. I'd forgotten. 

June 9, 2006 at 12:46 PM in House Rules | Permalink


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I think this is great news! It is, if you'll pardon my refined language, on some Borges shit for real.

MySpace is so far removed from reality I can think of nothing better than assigning thousands of Pentagon employees the meaningless task of making a giant, 1:1 ratio map of a mostly fictional social tapestry. This is almost like investigating a group of Dungeons and Dragons players and making up a detailed report on their game characters.

Posted by: Justin Boland | Jun 11, 2006 4:13:12 PM

This is a stupid idea. Justin might not be as amused if he realized he was paying for it.

Posted by: Stupid idea. | Jun 12, 2006 3:41:38 PM

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