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by CSO Contributor

Pentagon’s Proposed Terror Futures Market Under Fire; Bioterror Prevention vs. Public Health; FBI Targets Net Phoning; Sacked Staff Contemplate Sabotage

Jul 29, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Pentagon’s Proposed Terror Futures Market Under Fire

According to a story in The New York Times today, an initiative developed by the Pentagons Terrorism Information Awareness Office, called the Policy Analysis Market, will be set up as an online futures trading market in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups. The Pentagon did not provide details of the program like how much money participants would have to deposit in accounts. But it is set to begin registering up to 1,000 traders on Friday, with trading to begin on Oct. 1. The number of participants may expand to 10,000 by Jan. 1. According to the Times, two Democratic senators, Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) reported the plan and called it morally repugnant and grotesque. The senators said the program fell under the control of Adm. John M. Poindexter. Dorgan said the idea seemed so preposterous that he had trouble persuading people it was not a hoax. After the Senate critics spoke out, the Times reports, the Pentagon sought to play down the importance of a program for which the Bush administration has sought $8 million through 2005. The White House also altered the website so that the potential events to be considered by the market that were visible earlier in the day at could no longer be seen. The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the “broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks.” Bioterror Prevention vs. Public HealthBoston Globe. Even as state governments slash their budgets for disease prevention and campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, millions of federal dollars are cascading in to prepare for potential bioterror attacks. That shift is fueling fears that the nation is letting down its guard against the diseases that kill most Americans—heart disease and cancer foremost among them, which together are expected to kill 1.5 million people in the country this year—while expending unprecedented dollars and expertise on an uncertain threat. In Massachusetts, for example, the Globe says, state dollars spent on public health have shrunk 30 percent in two years. At the same time, the Department of Public Health has received $21 million from the federal government and is expecting millions more to improve laboratories, buy communications equipment, and hire specialists to handle an outbreak of smallpox or anthrax—potential terrorist weapons, but diseases not seen in the state for 50 years. And in Seattle, the Globe notes, the public health agency has seen its budget for core services such as cancer prevention and immunizations slashed by one-third during the past five years. And even though it received $2 million from the federal bioterror pot, that wasn’t enough to cover the expenses of inaugurating a required bioterror preparation plan and providing services such as smallpox shots.

A seismic shift in priorities is roiling public health agencies across the nation, according to a story in todays

FBI Targets Net PhoningBusinessWeek online, representatives of the FBI’s Electronic Surveillance Technology Section in Chantilly, Va., have met at least twice in the past three weeks with senior officials of the Federal Communications Commission to lobby for proposed new Internet eavesdropping rules. Internet phone calls are becoming a national security threat that must be countered with new wiretap rules, the FBI claims. According to the proposal that the FCC is considering, any company offering cable modem or DSL service to residences or businesses would be required to comply with a thicket of federal regulations that would establish a central hub for police surveillance of their customers.

According to a story on

Sacked Staff Contemplate SabotageVNUNet, more than half the U.K. workforce would be prepared to seek revenge on former employers by exploiting continued access to corporate systems if they were unhappy at losing their job. The research, by software vendor Novell, also found that 6 percent of respondents said that they would delete important files, 4 percent would let a virus loose in the corporate email system, 67 percent would be prepared to steal sensitive information that would help in their next job, and 38 percent said that they would steal company leads.

According to a survey published on British technology news portal