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by CSO Contributor

Smart Servers as Watchdogs for Trouble on the Web; Venture to Offer ID Card for Use at Security Checks; Democrats Call for Renewed Plastic Gun Ban; Justice E-Censorship Gaffe Sparks Controversy

Oct 23, 20034 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Smart Servers as Watchdogs for Trouble on the Web

A consortium of university and industrial scientists called PlanetLab has created a network designed to test a new generation of tools that may one day lead to a smarter, more secure Internet that can spot network problems like traffic jams and worms long before they affect individual computers, according to a story in The New York Times today. While networks run by the likes of MCI or AT&T, which consist of routers connected by high-speed links, PlanetLab is an overlay network, one that runs on top of the Internet by way of logic and software. Instead of conventional routers, PlanetLab uses PCs as smart routers at each node of its network. These PCs can run applications to determine, for instance, whether a packet is carrying benign or potentially malicious data before sending it along to the next node via the Internet, reports the Times. These smart machines and the software to run them have made such a network prohibitively expensive, but The National Science Foundation is now supporting the project.Venture to Offer ID Card for Use at Security ChecksNew York Times, Steven Brill, a journalist and entrepreneur, will announce today a new company, Verified Identity Card Inc., which will offer customers an electronic card containing data showing that they are not on terrorism watch lists and do not have certain felony convictions on their records. If businesses, airports and government agencies sign on to the plan and put Verified’s card readers at security checkpoints, cardholders would be able to zip through, avoiding the most thorough searches. Brill thinks this approach may be more palatable to consumers than a government-issued ID card, the idea of which has raised the hackles of privacy advocates. According to the Times, he says that customer data would not be sold or shared with other companies, and the system could not be used to track customer movements from checkpoint to checkpoint, and that he planned to seek an independent ombudsman appointed by a privacy rights organization to monitor the company’s privacy practices. He did say, however, that the company would probably alert law enforcement officials about an applicant whose name appears on a terrorist watch list.

According to todays

Democrats Call for Renewed Plastic Gun

Three Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would perpetuate the current ban on plastic guns that could be slipped past airport metal detectors. Without congressional action, the Terrorist Firearm Detection Act of 1988, which outlawed the manufacture and possession of plastic firearms, with exceptions for the military, will expire in December, according to a story on

Justice E-Censorship Gaffe Sparks ControversyThe Register today. The 186-page report was released to the public last week under the Freedom of Information Act. It was posted to Justice Department’s website in PDF format, but the department had blacked out vast portions of text, citing an exemption to FOIA that permits agencies to keep internal policy deliberations private. On Tuesday a website called the Memory Hole published a complete version of the report, with the opaque black rectangles that once covered half of it completely removed. This was apparently easy to do because the report began life as a Microsoft Word document, and whoever had sanitized it for public release did so by using Word’s highlight tool, with the highlight color set to black, a PDF expert told The Register. Without its censor’s figleaf, the report reveals much about the Justice Department’s gender and ethnic diversity issues. But, significantly, it also shows that the department is overly aggressive in cutting documents for public release, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

A government watchdog group Wednesday accused the Justice Department of improperly censoring portions of a key report on internal workplace diversity, after online activists successfully unmasked the blacked-out portions of an electronic copy of the document, according to