31 January 2003

From Good Morning Silicon Valley:

TIA+John Pointdexter. TLF: The Senate may have choked off government funding for John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program (TIA) -- a Defense Department research project that aims to identify terrorists by analyzing personal data collected in computer databases -- but that has done little to stop its progress. Indeed, according to those with knowledge of the program, TIA is no longer a simple "research project." There is now working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it....

7:33:14 PM  #   your two cents []
Phone Study: Holey Rat's Brains. Swedish scientists offer cell-phone users food for thought in a study that found that exposing young rats to the same radiation emitted by popular mobile handsets damaged the rodents' brains. [Wired News]
12:33:41 PM  #   your two cents []
Blogs open doors for developers. Business software developers are learning what game makers have long known: Using Web logs and online tools to gather feedback can help strengthen products--and pull in customers. [CNET News.com]
12:33:05 PM  #   your two cents []

Tom Murphy notes an entire editorial team is on sale on eBay:

Although the eBay entry now says "Complete former staff of Z---- T--- U-----" following some obvious legal wranglings, it originally said the "Complete staff of ZDNet Tech Update".

The offer includes staff on the East and West coast including:Executive editor, Senior editor/producers (All San Francisco) Executive editor / columnist, Managing editor / copy editor, Senior producers, Senior editor / producers, Senior content management developer / Vignette programmer (All Boston).

The auction ends on February 5th and the current highest bid is $2.25....

12:09:42 PM  #   your two cents []
I'd like this instead of the woeful search technology on the Irish Times archive -- maybe the government might want to have a goo (gle) as well: "It's difficult to imagine getting more from a $23,000 investment in search technology than the city of San Diego has gotten from its deployment of a Google Inc. search appliance."
11:43:34 AM  #   your two cents []
State Department Link Will Open Visa Database to Police Officers. Law enforcement officials will soon have access to a database of 50 million overseas applications for U.S. visas. [New York Times: Technology] The same paper reports on Microsoft's agreement to alter its Passport online verification system for European users here.
11:39:05 AM  #   your two cents []
West Coast Law Firm Closing After Dot-Com Collapse. Partners at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison have decided to wind down the firm that rose flamboyantly on the Internet boom. [New York Times: Technology]
11:37:36 AM  #   your two cents []

My Irish Times column this week [read in full here, free] is on the government's proposed 3-year+ data retention plan (to retain the traffic info for your phone and mobile calls, faxes, emails and web surfing habits). I look at this plan in light of the report issued this week by the UK's all-party parliamentary group, which firmly recommends that the UK's 12 month data retention proposal be scrapped immediately. At least they had a lengthy public consultation process in the UK. We've had only secrecy here:

Incredibly, up to this point the Department has not bothered to seek any input, advice or guidance from any of the groups who would be directly interested in and affected by such a bill - the internet service providers and phone companies that would have to store and manage years of data for millions of customers, businesses whose sensitive communications records would have to be preserved, or the privacy advocacy groups and those in the legal profession who follow data protection and privacy issues.

More appallingly, the Department failed to consult the general public - the people most directly affected by such a law.

It did not ask citizen groups for a response, it did not ask all the elected representatives who represent us to weigh in with a perspective on how constituents might feel. It did not even notify TDs that it had plans for such a law.

And, of course, the Department of, er, Justice did not do the right and just thing and seek your personal opinion. The Department has still not announced when this crucial process will begin.

If you find these plans appalling, you can read or join an Irish discussion forum on digital privacy issues here. If you are interested in taking action, email me and I will put you in touch with a group who are forming an Irish branch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

11:35:25 AM  #   your two cents []
Germany-funded Linux software arriving. KDE, one of the major interfaces designed to make Linux slick looking and easier to use, gets an upgrade, including the first results of work funded by the German government.  [CNET News.com]
2:28:50 AM  #   your two cents []