KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n21 : item31 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

Briefs

AT&T Invents Programming Language for Mass Surveillance

By Ryan Singel, Wired, October 29, 2007

From the company that brought you the C programming language comes Hancock, a C variant developed by AT&T researchers to mine gigabytes of the company's telephone and internet records for surveillance purposes.

An AT&T research paper ( Communities of Interest, Corinna Cortes, Daryl Pregibon, Chris Volinsky) published in 2001 and unearthed today by Andrew Appel at Freedom to Tinker shows how the phone company uses Hancock-coded software to crunch through tens of millions of long distance phone records a night to draw up what AT&T calls "communities of interest" -- i.e., calling circles that show who is talking to whom.

The system was built in the late 1990s to develop marketing leads, and as a security tool to see if new customers called the same numbers as previously cut-off fraudsters -- something the paper refers to as "guilt by association."

But it's of interest to THREAT LEVEL because of recent revelations that the FBI has been requesting "communities of interest" records from phone companies under the USA PATRIOT Act without a warrant. Where the bureau got the idea that phone companies collect such data has, until now, been a mystery.

Read more.

Bookmark using any bookmark manager!


KDnuggets : News : 2007 : n21 : item31 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

Copyright © 2007 KDnuggets.   Subscribe to KDnuggets News!