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Friday, June 9, 2006

Pentagon to harvest data from MySpace?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2006 at 12:46 PM

Well this is hardly surprising. From NewScientist.com:

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National SecurityAgency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, isfunding research into the mass harvesting of the information thatpeople post about themselves on social networks. And it could harnessadvances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming"semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - tocombine data from social networking websites with details such asbanking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to buildextensive, 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" couldsully people's reputations or even lead to miscarriages of justice -especially since the data from social networking sites may often beinaccurate, untrue or incomplete, De Roure warns.

                                                    

ButTim Finin, a colleague of Joshi's, thinks the spread of such technologyis unstoppable. "Information is getting easier to merge, fuse and drawinferences from. There is money to be made and control to be gained indoing so. And I don't see much that will stop it," he says.

                                                    

Callasthinks people have to wise up to how much information about themselvesthey 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. 

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About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Bio:
Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam. She also oversees Seven Days' parenting publication, Kids VT, and created the Good Citizen Challenge, a youth civics initiative. Resmer began her career at Seven Days as a freelance writer in 2001. Hired as a staff writer in 2005, she became the publication's first online editor in 2007.

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