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"Dark Alleys" on the Internet 704

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the places-people-hide dept.
nokilli writes "Sounding the alarmist tone many of us became used to in the early days of the web, The New York Times has a story that talks about "national security" concerns over the myriad ways in which two people (i.e., terrorists) can communicate using the Internet today [NYT=Kneel before Zod]. They're talking about monitoring chat rooms, email servers, etc. I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring my mage as it talks to your cleric in some obscure, nearly impossible to reach (unless you're level 50) corner of our favorite MUD."
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"Dark Alleys" on the Internet

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  • Uhm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Just force the game provider to hand over all logs ? :)
    • Re:Uhm (Score:2, Funny)

      by RevDobbs (313888)
      They (the TLA fed agency dujour) would probably use noclip, as I'm sure they are already using notarget and god mode.
    • Re:Uhm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tylernt (581794) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:29AM (#11147312)
      But who's going to read all those logs? If there are 1 million people online at any given point of time, you're going to need about 1 million people reading logs. The task would be overwhelming.

      Throw some nice 2048-bit RSA encryption in there, and the whole thing is impossible.

      You know, it's stuff like this that the terrorists want. They want us to lose our freedoms to overzealous anti-terrorism laws, they want us to live in fear. Suggestions like this article must make Bin Laden smile.
      • that's it, exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clsc (730336) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @11:13AM (#11147976) Homepage Journal
        >> You know, it's stuff like this that the terrorists want. They want us to lose our freedoms to overzealous anti-terrorism laws,
        >> they want us to live in fear. Suggestions like this article must make Bin Laden smile.

        What scares me is when it becomes normal for people to include "national security" in their vocabulary, especially people in government. To think that this is happening so few years after the wall finally broke down (you know, that concrete thingy that used to be somewhere in Europe) ... Sad thing is, these people probably don't even know it themselves, and would deny it if the thought ever occured to them. What, Pres. Bush and advisors doing it the communist way?! How's that for a statement?

        What we really need is so basic: Freedom of speech, human rights, and free movement of people and goods. Not the opposite - we know what happens when you restrict any of that; history has taught us that lesson over and over again.
      • Re:Uhm (Score:4, Interesting)

        by akadruid (606405) <slashdot.thedruid@co@uk> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @11:14AM (#11147993) Homepage
        I already replied, or I would give you an insightful for that.

        You can chalk up more victims to Sept 11th - thousands killed in the WTC, tens of thousands killed in Afganistan and Iraq, and millions accross the world living in fear and oppression.

        This sort of thing should be a wakeup call to the masses.

        Despite my best attempts, my girlfriend still worries when I get a on train every morning for London. She doesn't worry I'll be run over by a black cab, or raise my blood pressure in a stressful job. Instead, she worries that terrorist will blow up my train, my office, or even 'the whole of London'. The Culture of Fear has her trapped.
      • Re:Uhm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @12:14PM (#11148897)
        You know, it's stuff like this that the terrorists want. They want us to lose our freedoms to overzealous anti-terrorism laws, they want us to live in fear. Suggestions like this article must make Bin Laden smile.

        Really, bin Laden could care less if you live in fear or spend all day high. All you infidels are going to hell anyway. What he wants is to affect American foreign policy. (Which is going to plan.)

  • impossible (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    they can monitor everything they want, but it will be in vein. There are so many avenues for communcation they can't monitor everything..
    • Re:impossible (Score:3, Insightful)

      by acceleriter (231439)
      We used to say the same thing about electronic dossiers--that storage was so expensive there was no way to keep all that transactional data forever. Now they can.
      • You are comparing electronic storage, which everyone knows will increase to one of manpower. The only way for it to be feasible is for one half the population to monitor the other, but then again, who is going to watch the watchers?
        • Re:impossible (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stupidfoo (836212)
          The only way for it to be feasible is for one half the population to monitor the other

          good thing computers can't search text or audio (or video with facial recognition), otherwise the minority would be able to watch the majority

          who is going to watch the watchers?
          The Watcher in the Woods [imdb.com]
      • Re:impossible (Score:4, Informative)

        by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:48AM (#11147587)
        We used to say the same thing about electronic dossiers--that storage was so expensive there was no way to keep all that transactional data forever. Now they can.

        So they can store it. Can they find it through all the noise?

        If out of every 300 million people there are a couple dozen terrorists, how do you expect to find the terrorists talking about bombs through all the talk about bombs in video games, bombs in the movies, blonde bombshells and new cars that are "the bomb"?

        Even if you solve storage and you solve relevance, you still have to solve monitoring every delivery avenue. With the incentive of P2P, video games and new hardware you have several new avenues opening up every day. What if they terrorist wanted to communicate via handwritten text on his new Nintendo DS? Is that monitored?

        When communication was just phone and post, spies used flashes of light, pigeons and cleverly placed symbols in public locations. There is always a way to communicate without being spotted. Being able to store all you _can_ find will only help a little bit.

        TW
        • Re:impossible (Score:3, Insightful)

          If out of every 300 million people there are a couple dozen terrorists...

          The problem is that the number of terrorists are within the margin of error for any measurement system. Ask any experimental scientist or statistician about measurements and errors; they will agree. The only thing the government can do is reduce the number of terrorists to an acceptable level. The politicians will never admiit it, but this is exactly how they think (just as long as I can get through this term without any attacks..
    • Re:impossible (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Norgus (770127) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:06AM (#11147047)
      Its a stupid waste of resources, trying to monitor the entire internet(s?).
      Terrorists and such will continue to communicate efficiently and every other net user will have no privacy, and have to put up with and inherant network strain placed by this spying crap.
    • Re:impossible (Score:3, Informative)

      by justkarl (775856)
      they can monitor everything they want, but it will be in vein. There are so many avenues for communcation they can't monitor everything..

      Remember, kids:
      Vein: Blood vessel that returns blood to the heart.
      Vain: without sucess or excessively proud.
    • "they can monitor everything they want, but it will be in vain. There are so many avenues for communcation they can't monitor everything.."

      And when they realise this, the nations with enough PATRIOT-esque laws will simply shut off internet access in the name of national security. (They care for their citizens' best intrests of course!)

      I can't remember now, which communist (?) nation was it that shut down all the country's coffee shops because they realised that they couldn't put a spy at every table?

    • Re:impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hrieke (126185) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:12AM (#11147118) Homepage
      Needle in the haystack issue. Too much communication happens online- certainly they can have boxes report back a copy of all of the traffic from some ISP, or even all of the traffic out of / into an ISP, but to give analysis of that data is not something I'd like to be tasked with.
      And the real usefullness would be after the fact, and only when someone has told all that they know (and the goverment has all of the data recorded too).

      Thinking back to the cold war, the most successful communciations that the Russians spies would do where out in the open- usually simple things like colored thumbtacks on public bulletin boards, which unless you knew what to look for and then what it ment, it was very easy to miss.
    • Noise and Signal (Score:3, Informative)

      by Thangodin (177516)
      The more extraneous crap they monitor, the higher the noise to signal ratio. Kerry mentioned in the debates that there were hundreds of thousands of hours of unexamined surveillance tape. Of course there is! The best thing you can hope for with the growing mountain of surveillance output is that after the next attack, the cops will be able to look at the tapes and say, "Oh, yeah, there go the terrorists..."

      The intelligence community needs men on the ground, deep cover agents in the places where the terrori
  • Server Access? (Score:2, Informative)

    by piett134 (713199)
    They may not need server access to monitor your chat session in your MUD. Simply monitoring your incomming / outgoing data should be sufficient.
    Remember, even encryption can be broken :)
    • speak in 'leet

      that is sufficiently bizarre that the code breakers will try to decrypt it just on the off chance that something else might be hidden in the supposed text. (During wwII composer alban berg's music was inspected for encoded messages, until they realised it really was just music)

      never mind if it's salted with random characters or typos.

      now if everything was encrypted......

  • sniff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:02AM (#11147001) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring my mage as it talks to your cleric in some obscure, nearly impossible to reach (unless you're level 50) corner of our favorite MUD."

    It's called sniffing.
    Either on the wire, or if the MUD software encrypts traffic, on your end (via trojan) or the server end (via court-order).
    • Internet caffe ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aepervius (535155) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:20AM (#11147211)
      Even simpler, go to a random internet caffe every day, use a random chat cleint on a random server using passphrase convenied in advance. Why make it complicated when you only need good legs or a good trnasportation system in a good metropole to avoid wiretapping ?
      • Even simpler, go to a random internet caffe every day, use a random chat cleint on a random server using passphrase convenied in advance.

        But the government already knows that the 9/11 hijackers used cybercafes, libraries, and Kinkos sites to get net access for email and possibly other means of communication. Any guesses where the Dept of Internal Security is focusing its electronic eyes?

        (And they busted a guy for installing keyloggers in NYC Kinkos and ripping off bank and credit card account numbers an
        • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @11:05AM (#11147842)
          Actually, the most secure way of communicating is to simply appear normal. If you try to hide your communications, it sticks out in the normal flotsam and jetsam of data. But if your traffic looks more or less like Joe Sixpack's traffic, it's hard to tell.

          E.g., consider two coffeeshops across the street from one another. One guy sits in one and has a cup of coffee, reads the paper, etc. The other sits in the other and does the same. If they see each other every day, no attack. If one is absent, *boom*. Given the way people work, it's a regular, repeatable event, and can be used to communicate data (albeit slowly) - perhaps the paper is folded slightly differently, or carried away vs. left on the table.

          The real trick to hiding is to make it look like you have nothing to hide. And that is what makes it difficult.
    • Re:sniff (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      >It's called sniffing.

      That's far too complex.

      Buy game. Create female character. Ask Mage, "Hi, I'm new, can I tag along with you for a while?"

      This is the digital version of the 'Russian Hooker' gambit, except, sadly, with geeks no real sex needs to be exchanged for information.
  • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:02AM (#11147004)
    Anyone writing on technological matters in a popular publication should be required to have a modicum of a clue.

    Call me old fashioned.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:18AM (#11147179)
      > Anyone writing on technological matters in a popular publication should be required to have a modicum of a clue.

      Why? It doesn't seem to apply to 'other' matters.
    • by Isao (153092)
      Anyone writing on technological matters in a popular publication should be required to have a modicum of a clue.

      And the author didn't go to any practitioners in the field, either. Like...

      . an analyst at the United States Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth
      . a computer forensics specialist and a senior fellow at Mitretek Systems
      . an author and a specialist on the National Security Agency.
      . a former Arab linguist with the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Sy

  • by Jaywalk (94910) * on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:03AM (#11147008) Homepage
    And what gives them the bright idea that they can eliminate "dark alleys" on the net any more than dark alleys can be eliminated in real space? And even if every dark alley were well lit, that doesn't mean that they're being effectively watched. The sheer volume of information being exchanged precludes effective review of that data.

    It would make a lot more sense to focus on effectively handling the data available than simply adding to the flood of data already at hand.

    • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:16AM (#11147166) Homepage Journal
      And what gives them the bright idea that they can eliminate "dark alleys" on the net any more than dark alleys can be eliminated in real space?


      This is going to sound like a paranoid rant. I guess it is. But then, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

      What gives you the idea that "they" really believe the bullshit that they shovel? "They" always want a little more authority, so they can protect you from terrorists, or save your kids from drug pushers, or fight "the war on poverty."

      Is it possible, just possible, that all of these things are nothing more than thinly veiled power-grabs?

      Pierce the veil.

      -Peter
    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:25AM (#11147271)
      The point is not to know what's going on with every man, woman and child on the face of the earth, but to limit and control the actions of every man, woman and child.

      This is best done when fear is in place. --You don't have to be aware of accurate information on everybody. You just need instant access to accurate information on everybody. That way, you can make your quotas of public beatings and arrests without hassle. This, by itself, provides the impetus for the good sheep to stay good sheep.

      Harvesting begins shortly. Please stand by.


      -FL

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:04AM (#11147017)
    when communication was considered a good thing.
  • by ayjay29 (144994) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:04AM (#11147019)
    >>I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring my mage as it talks to your cleric in some obscure, nearly impossible to reach (unless you're level 50) corner of our favorite MUD.

    The clerics in obscure level 50 corners of all MUD games are FBI agents. Did you not know that??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:04AM (#11147020)
    I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring my mage as it talks to your cleric in some obscure, nearly impossible to reach (unless you're level 50) corner of our favorite MUD."

    They put a packet sniffer on the ethernet cable? Because your mage, my cleric, and the impossible to reach corner of the dungeon are not actually in a mythical world of make-believe, but just linked structs in heap memory? You retarded?
  • Futile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teiresias (101481) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:05AM (#11147028)
    To try and tap every conversation throughout the many internet communications outlets is as futile as trying to tap the hundreds of phone lines and overhearing conversations on streets (nevermind needing court orders). Big Brother is big but the populace is bigger. There is no way to create a large enough agency to not only collect but also analyze the data that would be collected.

    It's a concern but not a very legitamate one.
    • There isn't a person listening in on every conversation, but every cell phone/land line conversation is recorded.

      Storage is cheap, and it is quite easy to automatically analyze a conversation for key phrases/words. A human analyst could then take the time to listen in on interesting recordings.

  • by cnelzie (451984) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:05AM (#11147033) Homepage
    ...we need to get rid of the entirety of the Internet. It's the only way to save the world from the dark forces of terrorists that want to meet in 'dark alleys' and plot the destruction of the modern world.

    After that, we should destroy cell phones, especially the ones that have 'no contract' that can be picked up at a local drugstore, used for a week and then be tossed away.

    Our Modern world has just made it to easy for those 'evil ones' to communicate about destroying us. We should foil all their plots by going back to pre-80's technology levels. That will show them!
  • by Folmer (827037) *
    Now we know what Deathifier wants to use his island for:
    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/14/ 1759253&tid=209&tid=187 [slashdot.org]

    (It's a joke, laugh! No offence meant to Deathifier...)
  • Definitions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richie1984 (841487) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:06AM (#11147040)
    What worries me is not government monitoring of the internet. We already know that this goes on to some extent and if we really want to communicate privately, using an unencrpyted email or an IRC chat room isnt the way to go about it. The majority of us are knowledgable enough to communicate with some degree of security.

    My main concern is their definition of a 'terrorist'. I have no problems with law enforcement agencies going after real, or suspected terrorists, but I do disagree with the slow creep of the word to include people who have different opinions then the government.

    Then again, I'm more paranoid than most. Probably nothing to worry about. Probably...
    • Realities. . . (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fantastic Lad (198284)
      My main concern is their definition of a 'terrorist'. I have no problems with law enforcement agencies going after real, or suspected terrorists, but I do disagree with the slow creep of the word to include people who have different opinions then the government.

      S'already working, since there are no terrorists other than those the government deliberately allowed to act. The 'terrorism' bugaboo is just a way to trick people into being heavily controlled. But you know that already.

      You're not paranoid. I
      • Re:Realities. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khrtt (701691) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:37AM (#11147412)
        The question is, do you know why reality is shifting in that direction?

        Every country, especially a large a powerful country, needs a fascist government every once in a while, just to teach the moron part of the population to value their freedom. US is long overdue:-)/.
  • > I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring
    > my mage as it talks to your cleric ..by adding a chip to your keyboard?
  • Sigh, I wish people wouldn't make this analogy. I really wish more people would get involved with other parts of the internet like IRC, Usenet, etc. and see that there is a lot more than a web browser and an email client. And I'm not just talking about your grandma who uses AOL. There are many new techies that are unaware that such things exist, I talk to more and more of them all the time. Its a shame.
  • Somehow I don't think terrorists play MUDs.

    More seriously though, this problem is insoluble. Not that that will stop them from trying and sacrificing a lot of liberty meanwhile. If you're smart enough to rig a car bomb, you're smart enough to use encryption while planning it. Illicit communication can always be disguised as arbitrary binary data.
  • by dead sun (104217) <aranach@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:08AM (#11147071) Homepage Journal
    Most of the MUD codebases I have looked into have all had this nifty feature to log what players do, should the admins start suspecting foul play. It'll keep track of where the players go, what they say, emote, do, pretty much everything. Simply talking to an admin and letting them know that you're with some national TLA and would like cooperation in logging a characters conversation would probably be enough to get the job done.

    Or, consider most MUDs are transmitted in plaintext, and a simple sniff on your connection would be more than sufficient.

    No, the real tricks should be information hiding, all messages stongly encrypted, sensitive or otherwise, and simple knowledge of where not to communicate. Wonder if crypto hidden in the least significant bits of a scan of a point and shoot 35mm picture of some random "family" photo would ever go noticed. I hope you don't think your chatting in the open in an "obscure" MUD location really helps you any.

  • Lets just say the use a game of StarCraft to send cominication back and forth. Heck even if they are sniffing the information it will be tough to realize the context that the message is in. Or just use good old US Mail to send them a CD with the software for a different method of cumication all togeter. Or heck you could just post it as a troll on slashdot, in wide public eye.
  • I'd like to see how they plan on monitoring my mage as it talks to your cleric in some obscure, nearly impossible to reach (unless you're level 50) corner of our favorite MUD

    That trivial to do: you could monitor the packets passing along your connection to the MUD by going to your ISP. Or they could go to the administrator of the MUD and get access.

    I'd be more worried about two people conversing in a language that the intelligence community doesn't have enough experts in, who are personally known to eac
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:10AM (#11147096) Homepage Journal
    cops will be assigned to watch carefully all table knives because they eventually can be used to kill.
  • Bah (Score:3, Funny)

    by ikkonoishi (674762) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:11AM (#11147103) Journal
    Everyone knows the NSA has legions of bored fourteen year olds constantly monitoring all MMORPGS.

    Thats why whenever you get a monster to yourself suddenly *BOOM* kill stealer.
  • by jandrese (485) * <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:12AM (#11147111) Homepage Journal
    <Stormrider> I should bomb something

    <Stormrider> ...and it's off the cuff remarks like that that are the reason I don't log chats
    <Stormrider> Just in case the FBI ever needs anything on me
    <Elzie_Ann> I'm sure they can just get it from someone who DOES log chats.
    *** FBI has joined #gamecubecafe
    <FBI> We saw it anyway.
    *** FBI has quit IRC (Quit: )
    bash.org is great.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:13AM (#11147132) Homepage Journal
    ...when you've got private garden paths? :) I use OpenVPN [sourceforge.net] to build my own private network between friends and family. It's getting easier to do, it's encrypted, and it's sweet as hell once you have it up and running. Just imagine having a virtual network cable between your house and your friends and families homes and you've got the idea. It works on *nix, Windows and Mac OS X. Give it a try.
  • This is the type of fear mongering (government's wish, media's job) that keeps giving the state more and more power; to monitor more, have less legal accountability, sidestep the courts alltogether, and do pretty much whatever else they know they shouldn't get away with because "it's a different world now, and terrorists are everywhere".

    I call bullshit. There aren't more terrorists than there were decades ago; the country is not more dangerous. The rights and freedoms in the west are the crowning achieveme
  • I've studied steganography for maybe a couple weeks, and have already built a ruidmentary system (Thinking about making something more advanced into an open-source project). If it's so easy to homebrew secret means of communicating secretly encrypted data, then how much use is it to monitor chat rooms?

    Not that terrorists are usually that covert, honestly... But if they needed to be, they could. That is, of course, pretending a system like this wasn't an excuse to monitor a society which has grown less a
  • What about (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afstanton (822402) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:15AM (#11147152) Homepage
    encrypted spam? There is frequently junk in spam that looks like noise, but encrypted data also can look like noise. If you send out a million spams and just make sure that a couple of them go to the people you want to get the message...well, there ya go.
    • Re:What about (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Steve B (42864) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:18AM (#11147186)
      Precisely -- hiding a message in spam also has the advantage of defeating traffic analysis (there's no way to tell which of the millions of recipients knows that the exact percentage on the "mortgage offer", or whatever, is a code).
  • How many different ways can I have a (nearly) real time conversation on the internet? Let me count the ways...

    Jabber, IRC, e-mail, telnet BBS, OGG streaming, MSN, blogs comments, FTP text files, watermarked photo, web cams, GoToMeeting.com, MUDs, chess tourneys, internet faxing, slashdot, VOIP, SSH, SMS, P2P....

    Did I forget any? Oh yeah, someone could make a custom protocal.
  • monitoring for the sake of monitoring...

    what's the point of monitoring more if you don't have the system in place to make sense of the information you gathered?

    there are indications that we had monitored and gathered enough intelligence to (at least) be concerned about 9/11 before that day. we weren't able to piece it together.

    as long as increasing monitoring is simply about gathering more information but not about making sense of them, it seems to be nothing buy a political move to increase accountab

  • PGP a message then steganographically insert it into an alt.binaries.whatever post. This makes it easy to anonymously broadcast a message worldwide that can only be found and retrieved by its intended recipient, but can be picked up at any convenient time, from pretty much anywhere.

    I'm no expert on steganography, but my understanding is that automatically detecting its present depends on statistical anomalies that presumably wouldn't exist in a well-encrypted message (which will appear to be random noise)
  • by Blitzenn (554788) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:24AM (#11147258) Homepage Journal
    I think that the message here is much more ominous than what the surface story tells. The young man simply stated his great dislike for the United States government that is in place. He also made a flip comment about himself being a pilot of one 9/11 planes that crashed into the towers. I only see a crime here if he actually did the task. What are we becoming here in the US? It scares me to think that if I say that I hate GWBush with a passion that I will have the FBI crashing down my door. This smacks to me of totalitarianism (or however you spell that). Don't even THINK of hating us or we will take you down! It seems to me that this will go a long long way down the road of stopping anyone from questioning this government if they happen to think they are doing something wrong. Is the strong suggestion that your opinion of someones elses actions is wrong so wrong itself? I fear for the future of a people that are suppressed in this way. The scary part is that most of the people don't see it happening around them. They truely think this is a 'defensive' measure to secure 'their' lifestyle. What did this kid do to hurt anyone? NOTHING! He though something, spoke some words and went about his life as normal. There should not be a penalty for not agreeing with someone else and trying to change their position with words. Isn't that what the US is supposed to stand for?
    • I think that the message here is much more ominous than what the surface story tells. The young man simply stated his great dislike for the United States government that is in place. He also made a flip comment about himself being a pilot of one 9/11 planes that crashed into the towers. I only see a crime here if he actually did the task.

      If that was the only reason he was arrested and indicted, then I agree that this is a scary precedent. But is it the reason? I don't think this story gives that kind o

      • Here is something that I was taught a good number of years ago, and I have yet to find very many instances where it is not true. When you interview someone, the clothes they wear on that first meeting will be the best clothes they will ever wear in their career with you. It will never get better. So if you think they are on shaky ground in the interview with that, then you better toss the candidate. What does that have to do with this issue? The same thing applies to a news article. The news agency is
  • I'd especially like to see how the Alliance is going to spy on me and my Horde buddies when they can't even understand what we're saying.
  • by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:27AM (#11147288) Homepage Journal
    This whole "war on terror" is misguided. Finding existing terrorists and listening to them talk online WILL NOT STOP TERRORISM.

    You can't fight terror with force because as much as you may disagree with the terrorists' goals, to them and their followers they are freedom fighters. If you were a freedom fighter rebelling against what you thought was an unjust foreign force, would them invading your half of the world make you give up? No, you'd fight harder than ever and this time you'd recruit your friends. Would knowing that your communications might be intercepted stop you? No, you'd just find new ways to communicate.

    I wonder what percentage of our "defense" budget goes toward lobbying politicians to try to make policies that don't piss off half the world. That'd do more against terrorism, and for our defense, than any war.

  • TLAs don't have the slightest difficulty in listening to your chat. A repeater port & sniffer on some core routers will do it. They have a HUGE problem in deciding what to listen to. The "location" problem gets exacerbated by general innocent use of crypto/stego.

    The autorities also have a time problem since their monitoring storage is of finite size (exabyte?) and can hold only a small fraction of traffic.

  • by Khuffie (818093) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:38AM (#11147435) Homepage
    You know, instead of spending tremendous energy trying to monitor every single communications method, maybe its better to handle the problem itself?

    The US government should switch its efforts to why all these 'terrorists' are targetting it. There's gotta be a reason, and the reason isn't because the US "is a shining beacon of freedom." (why aren't they targetting Holland? Sweden? Finland?).

    Catching these terrorists isn't gonna solve the problem: more will popup immediately to take their place. But if the US started to address (and fix) why they're being targetted (their utter arrogance towards other nations), most of this will go away.

  • Hammer into Anvil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thedalek (473015) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @10:42AM (#11147492)
    Patrick McGoohan, star of the 1960's TV series Secret Agent Man (AKA Danger Man) later went on to write, direct, and star in a show called The Prisoner, which basically amounts to a paranoid Orwellian nightmare mixed with the whimsical trappings of Alice in Wonderland.

    In one episode, titled Hammer into Anvil, the protagonist, Number Six, who is constantly being spied upon by the sinister forces who control his mysterious prison (called only "The Village), decides to turn the tables on the chief warden (called "Number Two"). He begins to send secret, encoded messages to nonexistant entities, indicating that he is not really a prisoner, but a mole sent to determine the strength of Village security and staff.

    Eventually, he drives the current "Number Two" to a nervous breakdown. It's one of the best episodes.

    It seemed somehow relevant.
  • by yetanothermike (824215) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @12:33PM (#11149223)
    ...I thought the most interesting points were those of communicating without sending messages across the internet. The monitoring of a bank account for a $20 ATM withdrawl and saving drafts in a webmail account that are never sent are examples.

    The most troubling part of this to me is it comes from the angle that there is an expectation that all communications from "bad guys" can be monitored. If we operate under the expectation that all communications can intercepted we're just setting ourselves up for failure.

    The simple act of sending a postcard, or a flag flown on a balcony at a specific time, or a stalled car at a specific point on the road with it's left turn signal on or...

    Doesn't our own government use covert means of communication that they think can't be intercepted? If we have them, others do too. Focusing on high tech ways to monitor people who'll use low tech, or no tech, is another example of the arrogance of technology. We need to have many, many layers of security because none of them will work all the time. We can't check all the shipping containers, but we can control communications??

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