[Air-l] FW: [chineseinternetresearch] National Science Foundation to help CIA spy on IRC chatrooms

Charles Ess ess at uni-trier.de
Sun Nov 28 10:14:00 PST 2004

So shall we invite the CIA to the next AoIR conference? (smile)

In seriousness, I thought this report would be of considerable to many
Airists who know something about chatroom research and how easy it is to
profile users... (_not_ smiling this time...)

Charles Ess
Fall '04: Fulbright Senior Scholar
Universität Trier 
Fachbereich II
Fakultäten der Medienwissenschaft, Sinologie
Universitätsring 15
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Office phone: (49) (0)651-201-3744
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Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

------ Forwarded Message
From: George Lessard <media at web.net>
Reply-To: <chineseinternetresearch at yahoogroups.com>
Date: Sun, 28 Nov 2004 10:05:50 -0700
To: Chinese Internet Research List <chineseinternetresearch at yahoogroups.com>
Cc: L mediamentor <mediamentor at yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [chineseinternetresearch] National Science Foundation to help CIA
spy on IRC chatrooms


CIA checks out chatrooms
November 25 2004
by Declan McCullagh


In April 2003, the CIA agreed to fund a series of research projects
that the documents indicate were intended to create "new capabilities
to combat terrorism through advanced technology". One of those
projects is research at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy,
N.Y., devoted to automated monitoring and profiling of the behaviour
of chatroom users.

Even though the money ostensibly comes from the National Science
Foundation, CIA officials were involved in selecting recipients for
the research grants, according to a contract between the two agencies
obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and
reviewed by silicon.com sister site CNET News.com.

EPIC director Marc Rotenberg, whose nonprofit group obtained the
documents through the Freedom of Information Act, said the CIA's
clandestine involvement was worrisome. "The intelligence community is
changing the priorities of scientific research in the US," Rotenberg
said. "You have to be careful that the National Science Foundation
doesn't become the National Spy Foundation."

A CIA representative would not answer questions, saying the agency's
policy is never to talk about funding. The two Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute researchers involved, Bulent Yener and Mukkai
Krishnamoorthy, did not respond to interview requests.

Yener and Krishnamoorthy, both associate professors of computer
science, wrote that their research would involve writing a program
for "silently listening" to an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel and
"logging all the messages".

A June 2004 paper they published, also funded by the NSF, described a
project that quietly monitored users of the popular Undernet network,
which has about 144,000 users and 50,000 channels. In the paper,
Yener and Krishnamoorthy predicted their work "could aid [the]
community to eavesdrop in chatrooms, profile chatters and identify
hidden groups of chatters in a cost-effective way" and that their
future research will focus on identifying "topic-based information".


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