US Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security Countermeasures Directorate has recently launched a new public exhibition on cold-war era eavesdropping gadgets entitled, "Listening In: Electronic Eavesdropping in the Cold War Era." Scientific American posted a slide show ("Spying on the spies") of the exhibition and much of the text written about the devices, from old-school keyloggers to phone tap detectors. The permanent exhibit is located in the lobby of a State Department building in Rosslyn, Va.
Perhaps one of our DC readers can help us out and confirm the location. According to the State Department's list of field offices, there are 2 buildings in Rosslyn within a few blocks of each other: 1400 Wilson Boulevard and 1801 North Lynn Street.
MASON A3B RECEIVER: U.S. State Department engineers working for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security needed a receiver in order to find devices subversively transmitting signals to the enemy. The best kind of receiver was one that could be moved from room to room without looking like a radio, and the Mason A3 more than fit the bill.
It turns out that the fear of domestic surveillance by our government and the repression of citizens' civil rights is not a new issue. Total Information Awareness (TIA) is not a nightmare dreamed up by John Poindexter. Modern Mechanix has unearthed an Atlantic article from November, 1967 called, "The National Data Center and Personal Privacy" by Arthur R. Miller (no not THAT Arthur Miller!) in which is described the building of a large central database to compile large amounts of statistical/personal/medical data on US citizens. It was so scary that there were Congressional hearings on computers and their use to invade citizens' privacy.
But such a Data Center poses a grave threat to individual freedom and privacy. With its insatiable appetite for information, its inability to forget anything that has been put into it, a central computer might become the heart of a government surveillance system that would lay bare our finances, our associations, or our mental and physical health to government inquisitors or even to casual observers. Computer technology is moving so rapidly that a sharp line between statistical and intelligence systems is bound to be obliterated. Even the most innocuous of centers could provide the “foot in the door” for the development of an individualized computer-based federal snooping system.
For those with access to LexisNexis Congressional you can read the entire hearing online including Edgar Dunn's testimony or get thee to a federal depository library to check out the hearing. Here's the entire citation:
The computer and invasion of privacy. Hearings, Eighty-ninth Congress, second session. July 26, 27, and 28, 1966. by United States. Congress. House. Committee on Government Operations. Special Subcommittee on Invasion of Privacy.
Deep packet inspection meets 'Net neutrality, CALEA
By Nate Anderson | Published: July 25, 2007 - 11:10PM CT
Details the promise and peril of a new technology called "Deep Packet Inspection." On the plus side large-scale deployment of this technology might well be able to make large scale denial of service attacks a thing of the past and provide robust virus protection to all.
As this article indicates, this comes with a downside:
Looking this closely into packets can raise privacy concerns: can DPI equipment peek inside all of these packets and assemble them into a legible record of your e-mails, web browsing, VoIP calls, and passwords? Well, yes, it can. In fact, that's exactly what companies like Narus use the technology to do, and they make a living out of selling such gear to the Saudi Arabian government, among many others.
According to the article, this technology can also allow ISPs to determine who can access what, as shown by this example from Great Britain:
What that means in this is that you pay by the gigabyte and by the service. Plans start at Â£9.99 (around $20) a month for just 1GB of data, though use after 10 PM appears not to count for this quota. The lowest price tier also does not support gaming and places severe speed controls on FTP and P2P use (allowing only 50Kbps at peak periods). Plus.net says that the lowest tier will not work adequately with online games or corporate VPNs. Paying Â£29.99 (around $60) a month provides 40GB of data transfer and fast P2P and FTP speeds, along with 240 VoIP minutes from the company. All of these tiers feature downloads speeds of up to 8Mbps.
As Congress and the Government Printing Office insist on moving from a custody model (libraries have publications housed locally) to an access model (we link to the Future Digital System), librarians have an obligation to consider what will happen to users if we move from our current net neutrality to a model facilitated by the software described above. Do we think its ok for the government to have a complete record of who is accessing what publications? Are we prepared to turn users away when our ISP informs us that our monthly download limit has been reached? What happens when GPO reaches its Internet quotas in a future world where the government purchases Internet access from private providers?
It doesn't have to be this way. Support Net Neutrality. Educate yourself about digital library technologies and help build the geographically distributed federal depository library system of the future.
Thanks to the folks at Current Cites for pointing out this article.
Update 1/9/2007 - I uploaded a scan of pages 390-399, plus title page and table of contents for book discussed below.
One of the great things about living in a country that still has a significant commitment to government openness are publications which admit past mistakes on the government.
A case in point is the book The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1945-1992 by Paul J. Scheips and published by the Army's Center of Military History's Army Historical Series.
While it is mostly profiles how the Army and National guard performed well during the civil rights movement, there is a chapter dealing with political surveillance (pages 390-399).
The book mentions the scale of the data collection and types of data gathered by the Army (p. 395):
The great danger of such data lay in the fact that "Army intelligence, in the name of preparedness and security, had developed a massive system for monitoring virtually all political protest in the United States." Military agents had even assembled private information about the finances, psychiatric records, and sex lives of individuals. The data collection was enormous, with "virtually every stateside unit" having its own set of files. Fourth US Army headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for example, had the "equivalent of 100,000 file cards on "personalities of interest," and the III Corps at Fort Hood had computerized data on civilian political groups within its area. The size of the data banks demonstrated that the Army's domestic intelligence operations had been going on "in various degrees of intensity, since 1940," with roots extending back to World War I.
It also provides an evaluation of the surveillance in terms of effectiveness and it's harm to a democratic society (p.399) [Emphasis mine]:
Overall, the Army's venture into domestic surveillance generated a substantial backlash in the form of public and congressional criticism, while contributing little or nothing to the suppression of civil unrest. In some ways the Army's tendency to apply foreign intelligence-gathering methods to domestic situations reflected its earlier error of applying the standards of foreign war to the control of domestic disturbances. The basic problem was a mind-set in the intelligence community that saw conspiracy in protest and the threat of revolution in disorder. It was this way of thinking that led to an improper gathering and storage of a great quantity of information on American citizens that was seriously at odds with the tenets of a democratic society. In doing this, the Army failed to maintain a constitutional discipline over itself, and the civilian leadership was much too slow in calling it to task. It was a dark chapter in the Army's history of dealing with civil disturbances, which otherwise had been quite good during this troubled decade.
Remember, this isn't Tom Hayden or some loony lefty talking. This is the judgment of someone writing for the Army's own Center of Military History. This doesn't make it the official opinion of the Army, but they felt the book was worthwhile to publish.
Ironically, the rise of networked computing allows the construction of databases far more intrusive than the ones denounced in this book.
The book is also well worth reading for the constructive role that the Army played in desegregation. Overall, I think Mr. Scheips gives the Army good marks for their role in the 1960s, aside from their unlawful surveillance activities.
This book is a third in series. The title, author and SuDoc information for the set are:
- The role of federal military forces in domestic disorders, 1789-1878 / 1988 Coakley, Robert W. D 114.19:R 64
- The role of federal military forces in domestic disorders, 1877-1945 1997 Laurie, Clayton D. D 114.19:R 64/2
- The role of federal military forces in domestic disorders, 1945-1992 / 2005 Scheips, Paul J. D 114.19:R 64/2/2005
As far as I can tell none of these books are on the Internet, but you can find them in many Federal Depository Libraries. Read them and then decide if we really want to grant the executive branch unlimited authority to watch our lives. We say no.