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by CSO Contributor

Global Database Tracking Eyed for Detecting Terrorists; New Technologies Will Aid Weapons Inspectors; Brit Suspected in Military Network Hacks; Supreme Court to Consider Secrecy of Firearms Info

Nov 12, 20024 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Global Database Tracking Eyed for Detecting Terrorists

According to an article in todays Washington Post, a system proposed by former national security adviser John M. Poindexter, and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at about $200 million a year, would be able to sweep up and analyze data from government and commercial databases around the world. The systems technology would sift through “ultra-large” data warehouses and networked computers in search of threatening patterns among everyday transactions, such as credit card purchases and travel reservations, providing a more detailed look at data than the super-secret National Security Agency now has. Authorities already have access to a wealth of information about individual terrorists, but they typically have to obtain court approval in the United States or make laborious diplomatic and intelligence efforts overseas. Formidable foreign policy and privacy hurdles remain before any prototype becomes operational, but the initiative shows how far the government has come in its willingness to use information technology and expanded surveillance authorities in the war on terrorism. New Technologies Will Aid Weapons InspectorsThe Mercury News today. Inspectors will come equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, with many new detection tools since they last visited Iraq in 1998, including permanent stationary cameras, portable X-ray devices, hand-held detectors that use advanced Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to identify anthrax and other organisms, and laptop computers equipped with global-positioning systems and encrypted communications. And old-fashioned intelligence work is just as important, The Mercury News says. Inspectors will be looking for evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons development. Some production facilities are thought to be concealed, and there would be many places to hide a lab in a nation the size of California; others may be mobile. Still others are likely to be dual-use—readily diverted from peacetime chemicals to chemical weapons production.

What international inspectors discover amid Iraq’s heat, dust and hostility could not only determine whether that country comes under attack from the United States, but also could have global implications for arms control and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, reports a story in

Brit Suspected in Military Network HacksAP report, federal authorities have cracked the case of an international hacker who broke into roughly 100 unclassified U.S. military networks over the past year, officials said Monday. Officials declined to identify the hacker, a British citizen, but said he could be indicted as early as this afternoon in federal courts in northern Virginia and New Jersey. Those U.S. court jurisdictions include the Pentagon in Virginia and Picatiny Arsenal in New Jersey, one of the Army’s premier research facilities. Investigators consider the break-ins the work of a professional rather than a recreational hacker. It would be very unusual for U.S. officials to seek extradition, the AP reports, but the Bush administration has toughened anti-hacking laws since Sept. 11 and increasingly lobbied foreign governments to cooperate in international computer-crime investigations.

According to an

Supreme Court to Consider Secrecy of Firearms InfoBoston Globes website, the issue is brought before the Supreme Court by United States Department of the Treasury v. City of Chicago, in which Chicago filed suit to obtain information under the Freedom of Information Act from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The Constitutional matter before the Supreme Court is the scope of a federal public information law, which allows reporters and other outsiders to get unclassified government records (amounting to information on about 200,000 firearm traces a year) that officials would not otherwise release. The Bush administration, backed by the National Rifle Association and a police group, claims that confidential records are needed to safeguard investigations and protect people’s privacy. Critics say the administration’s policy keeps the public in the dark about gun violence and how well crime-fighters are doing.

The Supreme Court plunged into the gun debate today, agreeing to decide whether the government can withhold information on some gun purchases and crimes, including details of database checks like those used to track weapons in the D.C. area sniper case. According to an AP report posted on the