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Friday, November 22, 2002

eDNA: Pentagon mulled creating nonanonymous internet sectors
According to a John Markoff story in today's NYT, the DoD considered developing a means to de-anonymize sectors of the internet:

"The Pentagon research agency that is exploring how to create a vast database of electronic transactions and analyze them for potential terrorist activity considered but rejected another surveillance idea: tagging Internet data with unique personal markers to make anonymous use of some parts of the Internet impossible.

The idea, which was explored at a two-day workshop in California in August, touched off an angry private dispute among computer scientists and policy experts who had been brought together to assess the implications of the technology.

The plan, known as eDNA, called for developing a new version of the Internet that would include enclaves where it would be impossible to be anonymous while using the network. The technology would have divided the Internet into secure "public network highways," where a computer user would have needed to be identified, and "private network alleyways," which would not have required identification..."

"The review of the proposal was financed by a second Darpa unit, the Information Processing Technology Office."

"...Darpa awarded a $60,000 contract to SRI International, a research concern based in Menlo Park, Calif., to investigate the concept. SRI then convened the workshop in August to evaluate its feasibility.

Far from being hermetic, note the wide-ranging pool of stellar expertise invited to play, initially:

"The workshop brought together a group of respected computer security researchers, including Whitfield Diffie of Sun Microsystems and Matt Blaze of AT&T Labs; well-known computer scientists like Roger Needham of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England; Michael Vatis, who headed the National Infrastructure Protection Center during the Clinton administration; and Marc Rotenberg, a privacy expert from the Electronic Privacy Information Center..."

However, the lack of consensus was sharp. Most found the idea repellant. On the other hand, the chair was much more mission aligned:

"...Dr. Stavridou told the other panelists, "Darpa asked SRI to organize the meeting because they have a deep interest in technology for identifying network miscreants and revoking their network privileges."..."
:: posted by Bryan, 12:03 PM |

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