‘Even a back could be revealing’

Wanna freak yourself out? Consider the Big Brotherly implications of blogging:

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology – specifically the forthcoming “semantic web” championed by the web standards organisation W3C – to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Gee, I can’t imagine how that capability might possibly be abused.

[Gavin adds: It’s an outgrowth of the existing NSA program(s). If I can be allowed an I-told-you-so moment, remember this?


We researched this with a lot of phone calls and source-checking (Correntewire has been working on it as well). The NSA program is structured according to networks of people, not ‘phone records’ or bulk Internet surveillance.]

Orwell’s telescreens required invasive, mind-reading technology that doesn’t actually exist (so far as we know), but we voluntarily pour our most private thoughts into the Internet for anyone’s viewing enjoyment (or stultification, depending on what you happen to be viewing). And with the way these college kids are addicted to their Facebooks and their My Spaces, there’s an awful lot of personal information out there.


[T]he NSA is [also] pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone’s contact network, a process sometimes called “connecting the dots”. Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or “degrees” separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation.

Blacklisted organization? You mean, like, the Tekes? Those guys are total dicks.

Other data the NSA could combine with social networking details includes information on purchases, where we go (available from cellphone records, which cite the base station a call came from) and what major financial transactions we make, such as buying a house.

Right now this is difficult to do because today’s web is stuffed with data in incompatible formats. Enter the semantic web, which aims to iron out these incompatibilities over the next few years via a common data structure called the Resource Description Framework (RDF). W3C hopes that one day every website will use RDF to give each type of data a unique, predefined, unambiguous tag.

Now, if you’re one of those glass-half-full types, you’ll recognize that this will make researching topics such as Mexican flag bowties and groping grannies a snap. Or snappier. But, if you’re one of those glass-half-empty types, I suppose there are all sorts of potential privacy concerns and whatnot. I guess it just depends on your point of view.

Bush at computer.jpg…A-D-D-M-E-T-O-Y-O-U-R-C-O-N-T-A-C-T-S-?-H-O-L-L-A-!-!-!


Comments: 25


My Space is evil anyway. Except, Neil Diamond does have a MySpace page. He’s like the opposite of evil.

In summation, MySpace is not evil.


One of the more perplexing lessons of the digital age is that whenever a new technology comes along, everyone recognizes the possible abuses, and all the professional media beard-strokers gravely intone that our society needs to “have a conversation” about “these issues”. Alas, that conversation never happens, and both business and government immediately deploy the aforementioned technology in the most nefarious manner imaginable for the expansion of power and profit. And we just sort of lay there and ask The Man if he could maybe please use a little more lube, if it’s not too much trouble.


Blacklisted organization? You mean, like, the Tekes? Those guys are total dicks.

Being completely unaware of the meaning of “Teke”, I assumed I was missing a joke (see cleveland steamer) so I popped over to wiki to find out what I was missing. Now, i assume in this case you are refering to the Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity, otherwise known as TKE. But from Wiki I learned an even better bit of info about the term Teke: Teke is the Maori word for vagina. Now, if the Vagina is ever to become a blacklisted organization, clearly the terrorists will have won…



Yes, I agree with you. People who don’t support the PATRIOT Act are hiding something, like WMDs.
God bless,


Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace.


Is Myspace evil? Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace.

‘Nuff said.


I thought MySpace was evil ‘cuzza all of the black metal bands on it.


S,N! has stopped appearing in my Bloglines feeds again–some sort of coding problem?


Yes, I agree with you. People who don’t support the PATRIOT Act are hiding something, like WMDs.

Oh yeah. I think the so-called “Patriot Act” is an utterly orwellian intrusion into my privacy, in violation of the constitution and many statutes, so therefore I must be hiding something, like Anthrax in my sock drawer. Asshat….



Crap, I better delete Osama from my Friends List! Unfortunately, I think that means I will no longer be able to read his blog entries.


Does REO Teabaggin have a MySpace page? We should ask Stephen.


See, this is why I advise people to lie freely about their names.


You mean, like, the Tekes?

God, I hate Tekes. Fuckin’ rape house. At least at West Chester.

But yeah, what’s a blacklisted organization? Al-Qaeda? Greenpeace? The national teachers’ union? The Green Party? Who decides what blacklisted is, when we might not even know something is blacklisted because that information is deamed a “security risk”?


Ronald Reagan was in TKE. You can look it up. 🙂


The thing about myspace is that you can lie about everything.


I think the Firesign Theater hit it perfectly:

“Ask the man on the street,
Ask the cop on the beat!
Ask the cops knocking down your front door!”


Hmm… If Mikey is correct about the Maori meaning of “teke,” then I think it is 100% inaccurate to refer to the Tekes as “total dicks.”

Just sayin’.


Man, it’s like Orwell and Postman must have made some sort of magical bet a few decades ago, and it’s starting to come to fruition.


Caption on picture of Bush:

Uh, Sir. You just nuked Kansas.


Oh, wow, I forgot all about Enemyster. (Was that really just a month ago?)


[…] Same thing. Wanna freak yourself out? Consider the Big Brotherly implications of blogging: […]


I just stole the enemyster banner and I’m putting it in my myspace profile. Try and catch me now, NSA goons! HA!


See, this is why I advise people to lie freely about their names.

Exactly. I advocate online lying whenever I can (….though not maliciously or manipulatively). First, it makes you far more fascinating than you could ever be in real life and second, it screws up the algorithms these Orwellian geniuses live by.

…Now, back to my bridge game with the Governor General….


Anyone see Alan Finder’s NYT article on employers myspacebooking their potential employees?

Seems to me these guys just want an excuse to check Britney’s profile without needing ninja alt+tab skillz.


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