Mudcat Café message #1652986 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1652986
Posted By: Arne
21-Jan-06 - 03:38 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration

You have avoided answering the question about where Echelon originated and what Carnivore is. Are you hiding the truth from us again? If you can't blame it on Bush yous don't want to talk about it.

I know a bit about the technology ... hey, I've even seen RFPs for surveillance systems for telecom/IP traffic on major backbones for a certain large foreign country. It ain't easy. I think the "Omnivore" project was undoable, and "Carnivore" not nearly as scary as some people make it out to be. I know the technology of filtering sniffers (for instance, the TopLayer DCFD).   The main problem is a filtering one; the bigger the pipe you want to sniff, the more data you have to filter, and the filters just ain't that good. Another problem is theheterogeneity of the net; one of the design objectives of the IP network was to make it irrelevant what paths were in use. This provided the quite useful quality of redundancy, failure-resilence, and robustness, but it makes the sniffing all the more difficult to do; you have to sniff everywhere< if you want to be sure you're getting the information you want.

But the main issue isn't the technology; it's the use of monitors without oversight. You may have a hard time trying to find a specific thing in your sniff (i.e., something useful like all conversations that are al Qaeda operational discussions, but you can certainly get all kinds of amusing, embarrassing, or blackmailable tidbits just by sniffing promiscuously ... as long as you don't care who it is that you're snooping on).

The scaremongers and conspiracy theorists love to toss out the names "Carnivore" and "Omnivore", hoping the names scare people, but it's really not an issue of whether snooping should beallowed, but why it should be allowed, under what circumsatnces and with what oversight and control. I'm far more worried, not about the technology, but about the process. And that's why it concerns me far more that Dubya's doing warrantless snooping with no oversight than that such snoops are technologically feasible (to the extent that they are). And I'd think you ought to feel the same way.

See this too. I'd rather that control of the sniffers be under the ISPs (as they are under the telcos [here in the U.S.]), with the ISPs providing a check on unauthorised sniffing by requiring warrants be proper before a tap is put in. Then there's this for more background info.

For more on what might be done with Echelon, you should read Bamford's books "The Puzzle Palace" and "Body of Secrets".