[LINK] Microsoft shortlisted for "most invasive project"
brd at austarmetro.com.au
Tue Apr 8 17:25:04 EST 2003
Microsoft shortlisted for "most invasive project"
Tuesday, 08 April 2003
Microsofts Trustworthy Computing initiative was nominated most invasive
project by activist group Privacy International in its annual Big Brother
awards in the USA.
Now in its fifth year, the privacy group gave out awards - in the shape of
a large golden boot stamping on a human head - at the annual Computers,
Freedom and Privacy conference to the "government agencies, companies and
initiatives that have done most to invade personal privacy," according to
the London-based group.
Anti-terrorism surveillance proposals from the Defence, Justice and
Homeland Security departments received the derision of the activist group.
This year's nominations reflected a protest against homeland security
efforts that attempted to shock and awe freedom-loving Americans out of
their civil liberties," said Chris Hoofnagle, organiser of the event.
Microsoft's proposed "trustworthy computing" system was a nominee for Most
Invasive Project award. Other nominees included the call for incorporating
into automobiles "event data recorders" that are like the "black boxes" on
aeroplanes to record data on traffic accidents.
However, the US Defence Department's Total Information Awareness (TIA)
project walked away with the prize. TIA is an attempt to anticipate future
terrorist attacks by using computer data-mining tools to sift through
commercial records of millions of Americans. The project calls for the
development of "revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source
information repositories," which would contain information from multiple
sources to create a "virtual, centralised, grand database." This database
would be populated by transaction data contained in current databases such
as financial records, medical records, communication records, and travel
records as well as new sources of information. The project was conceived by
retired Admiral John Poindexter.
Delta Air Lines won the title of "greatest corporate invader" for its
participation in the Transportation Security Administrations testing of a
system for screening airline passengers. Delta is a partner in the pilot of
CAPPS II - Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System - in three cities
in the US. The CAPPS II program is designed to draw from more than 100
sources to evaluate whether a passenger is "rooted in the community," and
therefore not a flight risk.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has been
seeking to obtain personal information about a Verizon Communications
Internet user, and the Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic-leaning
think tank that promotes biometric driver's licenses, were also nominated.
Poindexter also had the honour of having an award named after him, the
"Admiral John M. Poindexter Lifetime Menace" award. This was presented to
Osama bin Laden, the head of the al Qaeda terrorist network, for giving
Attorney General Ashcroft the excuse he needed to pass the USA PATRIOT Act
and the Homeland Security Act, and the gall necessary to formulate PATRIOT
II, new draft legislation designed to push police power even further.
Displaying video of a speech by bin Laden, Privacy International activists
offered this translation: "Terrorists are clearly determined to force the
USA to curtail freedoms. I am here to tell you that we have won."
In late March, the UK awards were announced, where Tony Blair picked up the
Lifetime Menace Award because of his active involvement in the
government's attack on civil liberties. Blair's government has angered
privacy groups with his plans to force phone companies and Internet service
providers to retain users' data for 12 months as part of the country's
stepped-up war on terrorism and crime. Under the initiative, the government
would have access to British citizens' phone numbers, e-mail addresses and
the Web pages they visit
There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in
Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.
-- Herbert Hoover
brd at austarmetro.com.au
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