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by CSO Contributor

Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project; Questions Raised on Earlier Ricin Case; RFID Privacy Law Debated in California; Pakistani Scientist Pardoned for Leaking Nuclear Technology

Feb 05, 20043 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project

According to Wired News, The Pentagon has canceled its so-called LifeLog project, an ambitious effort by Darpa, the Defense Department’s research arm, to build a database tracking a person’s entire existence. LifeLog aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does: phone calls made, television watched, magazines read, plane tickets bought, e-mail sent and received. Out of this ocean of information, computer scientists would plot distinctive routes in the data, mapping relationships, memories, events and experiences. Supporters touted the program as one that would forward research in artificial intelligence, and yield an almost perfect digital assistant. Critics argued that LifeLog could become the ultimate tool for profiling potential enemies of the state. Darpa hasn’t provided an explanation for LifeLog’s quiet cancellation. “A change in priorities” is the only rationale agency spokeswoman Jan Walker gave to Wired News. Questions Raised on Earlier Ricin CaseThe Boston Globe today, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said a letter found on Nov. 12 prompted homeland security officials to immediately contact public health authorities, the FBI, and the Postal Service. But he said the letter was not made public until Tuesday because the substance was deemed low-grade and not a public health risk. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary James Loy acknowledged to the Homeland Security Committee that if Congress was not officially informed of the November letter, a grave mistake was made.

The Bush administration did not immediately inform members of Congress last fall about a letter addressed to the White House that contained the deadly toxin ricin, prompting at least one lawmaker to complain yesterday that an alert about the possible threat had not been passed along. According to a story in

RFID Privacy Law Debated in CaliforniaInformation Week reports that Bowen says the specifics have yet to be decided, but the likely focus of the bill would be retail-item RFID tags, as opposed to the more prevalent use of tags on cases and pallets in the supply chain. Last fall, Bowen held hearings to determine whether RFID legislation might be necessary to address privacy concerns. During the November hearing, she expressed concern about the possibility of RFID-enabled data collection. A spokesman for the trade group Uniform Code Council Inc. argued that the industry could police itself by adhering to guidelines set forth by the organization promoting the infrastructure that links RFID devices and databases. Vijay Sarathy, product-line manager for Sun Microsystems’ RFID line, and Simson Garfinkel both see merit in regulation.

California state Sen. Debra Bowen plans to introduce legislation this month to restrict the retail use of RFID tags.

Pakistani Scientist Pardoned for Leaking Nuclear TechnologyBBC News Online report today, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pardoned Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced founder of the country’s nuclear program who has confessed to leaking nuclear weapons secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. The head of the UN’s atomic agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, described Khan’s revelations as just the “tip of the iceberg” of illegal trafficking. But General Musharraf said Pakistan would not hand over any documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or allow the United Nations to supervise Pakistan’s nuclear program. Khan told the nation he had acted without authorization and has said Musharraf was not involved, but experts are skeptical that Khan’s alleged proliferation network could have spread so far without the complicity of some in the government.

According to a