back to article NSA setting up secret 'Perfect Citizen' spy system

The US National Security Agency (NSA) is embarking on a secret domestic surveillance project dubbed "Perfect Citizen", intended to monitor and protect important national infrastructure such as power grids and transport systems. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed government and industry sources, says that the NSA has …


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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Anticitizen activity reported in that block

    It's not really news but it just reminds me how the Western world is inexorably moving towards becoming some sort of Half-Life City 17 but without the nice bits (e.g. zombies, alliens and countless ammo and health packs).

    This will not really happen, of course, as the countries will become so unstable long before they reach anywhere near that stage that there will be a war or a civil unrest or some other correction. But even going half-way down that road is not a nice thought.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Meanwhile ...... Way out in the Lead, a Pork Fork in the Road.

      "but without the nice [alien] bits ... This will not really happen, of course, ...".... Vladimir Plouzhnikov Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 10:02 GMT

      You think not, Vladimir? ........ Posted by AmanfromMars on 7/8/2010 2:45:23 AM

      What if Really SMART Aliens contracted with Earth to share their MkUltraSensitive Human Mind Control Methodology and AI Technology, in Order to Create Heavenly Live Operational Virtual Environments which Mentor and Monitor and Supply All Future Mutually Beneficial Needs ....... which may even be, for Ease of Provision, Programmed Wants.

      Whom do you Imagine they would Need to Approach with that Offer to Create a whole New NeuReal and SurReal World here on Earth? Who Controls the Running of Things here, and what do they $imply Provide so that their Wishes and Global Needs and Human Wants are Fulfilled?

      Or is it more a case of IT being a Power and Control Tap which is turned on and off so as to Destroy and/or Curtail Rapid Universal Progress with such as would be a Strangulation and Regulation of AIR&dDevelopment beyond Earthly Controls ....... which you might like to consider is the Current Dilemma and/or are the Future ZerodDay Vulnerabilities and Virtually Real Opportunities in a Nut Shell, as Provided by that Novel Entity known of everywhere as CyberSpace .... with ITs Secured Area 42 Network Command and Control InterNetional Space Sources and HyperRadioProActive IT Resources ....... Core Code Lodes ...... Base NEUKlearer Material.

      And do you think the following is mind numbing popular entertainment ... or future intelligent edutainment .....

      ""The Dream is collapsing."

      "I have it under control"" ..... Public version

      The System is being Collapsed. Who has IT under their Control? .... the Private Pirate and Director's Cut .

      Beware the Cascading Solution of a Species who would Perceive and View Attempts at Bandwidth Throttling of Information for Intelligence Manipulation as an Undignified and Unwarranted Assault against the Third Person Plural and First Person Singular, for the Perfect Citizen, a Virtually Conceived Entity, is No Harmless Fool to be Hopelessly Fooled when Tooled and Schooled to Deliver ...... An Alt. Proposal which could and would be the Arbitrary Random Release of Renegade Rogue and Right Royal Rampant Ternary Viruses, which will Collapse Corrupted Binary Systems of SCADA Operation and be Disguised in the Guise of Addictive InterActive Dynamic ARGs and their Ilk. ....... for the ExtraOrdinary Rendition of Future Perfect Great Game Play.

      And there is No Known Earthly Defence against that Simple Unknown Space Attack.

      And there y'all were, probably not even thinking about what GCHQ and the Office of CyberIntelAIgent Security do for you, to keep you Safe and Sound in your Stupour and out of Harms' Way. Which is All for the Best, of course, for Man has proved himself to be Totally Unsuited to Handling the Truth, preferring instead to Manufacture a Pack of Lies and a Train of Idiots to Spin them.

      Truth is Stranger than Fiction and Never Ever Loses.

      1. Lee Dowling

        Ouch... my eyes.

        Capital letters are for beginning of sentences, proper nouns, acronyms and similar. My eyes just hurt and I can't tell if you're trolling or just genuinely a paranoia evangelist.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @Lee Dowling

          Welcome to the wonderful world of amanfrommars1. Nobody knows who (or what) he is or whether he's just a failed attempt at AI.

          Most regular El Reg readers know that whilst, occasionally, he comes out with something that is actually comprehensible, generally it's best to just skip over his posts and save yourself the time...

          1. lpopman
            Black Helicopters

            titular guidance

            The algorithm I usually use for amanfrommars1 posts is as follows:-

            1. Is there more than one paragraph? If no, goto 3

            2. Does every other word have initial caps? If yes, goto 4

            3. Read amanfrommars1 post, as it should be comprehensible.

            4. Start reading next post.

            Quite effective, methinks...

          2. Richard 120
            Thumb Up

            I remember...

            When I first tried to read and comprehend one of his/her/it's postings. I'm pretty sure my eyes began to bleed and my brain started to seep out of my ears.

            Long live amanfrommars1

  2. FuzzyTheBear

    FUD yet again

    Those NSA boyos will never stop .. And the media dont help.

    "It is feared by some in the US intelligence/defence community that unfriendly powers and organisations are already engaged in probing these systems with a view to learning how to attack them."

    " Some " who's some ?

    Vague statements from people " in the know " are generally people from companies trying to push their crap.There's no Cyber War raging on at the moment.Period. What's going on is that you have companies pushing their crap to the US government mentioning vague studies carried by unnamed classified or government sources and using the media to influence the

    purchases of totally useless material.

    Thank the Bush right wing paranoid communist hangning republicans that are still in power

    when they should be the first to be fired.The real enemy is within not outside the US borders and it's called the republicans.

    Richard Hebert

    1. Captain Save-a-ho
      Big Brother

      Didn't stick the landing

      Agreed with you completely up to the ending. If you really think it's just Republicans that have constituents like Raytheon, L3, and McDonnell-Douglas, you really aren't in touch with reality. There's not a damn difference between either political party, as both want more government, less freedom, and bigger checks from the PACs.

      Not sure how you can call any of the them "the enemy", either. That's nearly as outlandish as the "big brother" hype coming from the media on this NSA business.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Full Transparency ..... is a Valuable Stealthy Weapon too

      ""It is feared by some in the US intelligence/defence community that unfriendly powers and organisations are already engaged in probing these systems with a view to learning how to attack them."" .... "There's no Cyber War raging on at the moment.Period." .... FuzzyTheBear Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 10:02 GMT

      Oh, the smarter players in the Great Game would already know how to attack them and bring them crashing down, FuzzyTheBear [what do you think has been happening to the System over this past couple of years] however....... the even smarter ones would be be testing Intelligence Communities for their supposed pervasive snooping capabilities which are pimped as being able to capture irregular and unconventional activity and pinpoint and identify targets and/or persons of interest, and that is something which is probably proving a daunting task too far.

      The Big Money though is not to be made in crashing and disrupting Operating/SCADA Systems but in providing Security to IT to prevent System Collapse happening, and that can only be provided by those who can Collapse it Remotely. That is not to say that some nations would not pay a Kings Ransom and Absolute Fortune for that same information in order to themselves benefit from what is in Reality, a Virtual Danegeld Program, and thus are such Programmers highly prized and much sought after, for a talent which is worth trillions in any and every fiat currency, and which can in an instant switch from white hat to black hat on a conscious whim, is that which confronts All Parties, from the Virtual Domain.

      Methinks that, in anyones'language is definitely akin to a Cyber War which cannot be defeated or even remotely attacked, for any attack or reluctance to pay handsomely for protection, will then tip the balance towards the dark side of matters and Information sharing for Black Hat Operation ...... and just a few bits of that sort of information in the wrong hands/hearts and minds, would be game, set and match over for those who dithered and thought such Global Control, AIMission Impossible.

      And you have no idea how convenient the attitude you have shared, is to those who would be able to render national security agencies, helpless and hopeless spectators to rapidly unfolding critical events, for such Sterling Ignorance, is a Glorious Bliss allowing unfettered and undetected Stealth Progress, deeper into All Major Systems.

      "What about if you are a competitor to Raytheon?" ... Yet Another Anonymous coward Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 15:48 GMT

      If a better competitor with superior elements/components/methodologies/algorithms, would Raytheon be duty bound by shareholder obligations to create profits, to purchase a share in the Facility/Utility, or lose the NSA contract when everything goes pear shaped?

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Anticitizen One!

    "You've got to instrument the network to know what's going on, so you have situational awareness to take action," an unnamed military source told the paper.


    "You have got to make some work and pretend that you can do a better job than the private sector at knowing what's going on, then pretend that you can actually do something, Hollywood-style, about a problem. If you don't shell out like crazy, you might also get a budget reduction next year and nobody wants THAT"

  4. Scott 19

    Hippy Love

    The 70's was the era of free love until the guberment stuck there noses in (and a certain war in the far east didn't help). The 80's was just bad hair and the guberment had there way with yuppies making millions in tax. Now we have the free flow of information that has made our lives truely global, money on the guberment ruining it? My moneys on a global logon where to use the internet you have to use a passport type logon so you can be tracked (next 15 years).

  5. david wilson

    Anyone home?

    >>"For instance, full access to power company systems might allow the NSA to work out whether anyone was at home at a given address."

    So people who need/want to keep whether or not anyone's at home secret from the government might need to leave something running on a timeswitch (or their electric oven running on its timer)?

    If I was doing something I didn't want the UK government to know about, if it had got to the point where they were curious enough about me to need to know when I was out (to break in and bug me, or clone my computers?) I think they would manage fairly well without access to power company records.

    I'd guess the situation in the USA was similar.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters

      Spot on...

      If you're truly paranoid enough... yeah you could put in an electric timer which has a bit of randomness built in. (If your lights go on every day at 8:00pm kind of give it away...)

      The NSA is usually limited in what they can do domestically and of course with FOIA, difficult to keep any surveillance secret.

      Also if you're really paranoid, you could go off the grid completely. ;-)

      1. Eddy Ito
        Thumb Up

        Re: Spot on...

        "you could put in an electric timer which has a bit of randomness built in"

        Lovely idea, so simply using common weather station sensors should do the trick. How long would it take them to figure out that you "bake bread" only when the temp drops 5 degrees with a southerly wind and a light rain?

    2. Nexox Enigma


      """f I was doing something I didn't want the UK government to know about, if it had got to the point where they were curious enough about me to need to know when I was out (to break in and bug me, or clone my computers?) I think they would manage fairly well without access to power company records."""

      Except that if they're already monitoring everyone, they wouldn't have to know ahead of time whether you were doing something bad, they could check to see if you were (probably) at home 3 weeks ago at 2pm, and they could probably run a nice little query to find /everyone/ that was at home 3 weeks ago at 2pm.

      No idea what they'd do with that sort of information, but I'm pretty sure that's another of those entirely unnecessary databases.

      And of course evidence that you're obfuscating your power consumption will be taken as evidence that you're a terrorist.

      Also they could probably chase down people that grow decent amounts of marijuana indoors, as I hear that takes something like 3x the power of a regular household.

      And then where would we be!?!

      1. david wilson

        @Nerox Enigma

        >>"Except that if they're already monitoring everyone, they wouldn't have to know ahead of time whether you were doing something bad, they could check to see if you were (probably) at home 3 weeks ago at 2pm, and they could probably run a nice little query to find /everyone/ that was at home 3 weeks ago at 2pm."

        Except that they could, at best, (and given a suitably co-operative electricity meter), maybe work out if the house *appeared* to be occupied or not, but would not be able to work out who was there.

        And that's still assuming they don't get confused by washing machines/dishwashers running for a couple of hours after being sett off (or on delay timers), various things on time switches (security lights, central heating, videos), things responding to other events (immersion heaters warming up a cooled tank, security lights triggered by foxes screwing in the back garden; dehumidifiers running on humidity sensors, fridges running harder as a house warms up in the daytime sun, freezers running unusually hard for a while after someone loads them with lots of stuff to freeze, etc.

        On the other hand, if I was at home in the day, happily surfing away on a laptop, how can anyone tell I'm actually there, compared to me having left a couple of lights turned on, or having the PVR grab some programmes for me?

    3. Paul RND*1000
      Big Brother


      When they can determine where anyone is based on cellphone location data anyway and nearly everyone old enough to talk has one.

      Of course you could always "forget" to bring your phone with you.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "Many older systems, [...] have since been hooked up to the internet [...]. It is feared [...the bad guys...] are already engaged in probing these systems with a view to learning how to attack them."

    Well remove them from the internet then!! Good grief - it's not rocket science, is it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      This is no place for common sense!

      Ah but then they wouldn't have an excuse to put in more surveillance equipment would they? They need the latest bogeyman ( cyber-terror, paedos, normal terrorists?!) in order to scare the dumb masses into staying fat, lazy and stupid.

      What the Govs of this world fear most is anyone thinking for themselves, like you just did!

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Its not that simple...

      Back in the early 90's, I wrote the OS to an embedded controller that would sample the amount of chlorine present in the water. It would add chlorine to the water as needed. Security wasn't an issue because you had to have physical connectivity to the box and the box is in a controlled environment. In fact, the only interface was an RS-232 serial interface.

      Moving forward, they ran an RS232 cable to a 'null modem' to a PC that would monitor the results and store and forward them to an Oracle database. (This was done after I had left the project).

      So now your PC is connected on an intranet and most likely contains the app used to manually adjust the parameters to the program that ran on my box.

      So... while you can easily say 'disconnect' the box. Its not that simple. The database is probably taking data from multiple sites all running these boxes. They could update the OS on the box... if they had competent software engineers who know what they are doing. (Note: Since this is a machine that adds chlorine to drinking water, you can't just pull a guy fresh off the boat to do this...)

      That would add some security. But if the PC or Linux box connected to the device isn't secure, well you've wasted your money. Then you have the network. Intranet, internet, etc ... All of that has to be secured.

      Not a cheap task when you consider the amount of infrastructure that has to be safeguarded.

      Going to the NSA which has access to software, people and research that us mere mortals dont... it kind of makes sense.

      I'm less worried by the NSA as I am of the foreign hackers who are on their governments' payrolls...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Re: their governments' payrolls?

        "I'm less worried by the NSA as I am of the foreign hackers who are on our government's payrolls..."

        There, fixed that for you.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          At the Highest of Echelons ...... Mum's the Word and you only Get to Know what you Need to Know

          ""I'm less worried by the NSA as I am of the foreign hackers who are on our government's payrolls..."

          There, fixed that for you." .... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 19:46 GMT


          What the likes of an NSA are most concerned about, or should be most concerned about ....... and that will be/should be mirrored in the same concern for every nation or dictatorship or administrative cabal or New World Order Elite or whatever you may think of would be into wielding Power and Control in Systems with Intelligence, ........ are the Non State Actors and Wild Roving Independent Freelancers and Roaming Renegade Rogues who are on an Off the Books Payroll and Privately Slush Funded by any number of Innovative Untraceable Means/Memes with Secured Numbered Accounts, because of the Value and Sensitivity of their Hacks and Cracks, with their primary concern being, that to not engage and supply them their needs and wishes, will quite naturally see them migrate elsewhere to where their services are recognised and appropriately appreciated.

          There comes a time, at a certain level in such games, when whatever it takes, is a fabulous bargain to be gladly paid, for any and all costs are known by all the players at that level, and beyond, to be just a red herring of no real consequence. By this means is a compromised system secured and insured and assured against its own abused weaknesses and collapse/catastrophic meltdown.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Step 1

    Call it something that conjures to mind the exact opposite of what it is:

    Perfect Citizen = All citizens are not to be trusted

    Safety Camera = Anything but

    Ministry of Truth....

    1. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      @"Call it something that conjures to mind the exact opposite"

      Call it something that it isn't is therefore proof of their intention to deceive and manipulate. Therefore they cannot be trusted. Therefore anyone who does say they can be trusted is either ignorant of the deceitful nature of these people, or they are themselves deceitful people seeking to fool people into failing to see through other deceitful people. (After all deceitful people do not want a world where deceitful people can be seen through because in such a world they would fail to be so successful. Which is exactly the way to fight back against what is happening. Everyone needs to learn to see through these people).

      "Machiavellianism is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct"" ... and the concept of Machiavellianism has existed for almost exactly 500 years (since 1513).

      They also show their intention to continue to abuse ever more Orwellian technology for ever more control no matter what anyone says to them. After all the people in power want to be the people in power so they don't want to listen to other people. They want to be the people who choose (and therefore dictate) how others must live. Worse still we cannot even oppose their ideas without them thinking us as the enemy.

      Therefore this Perpetual War on terror is looking ever more like a war on freedom. But then terrorists seek to dictate their will over everyone, so that means political leaders see terrorists as direct competitors for their position of power over people. The terrorists want to be in power. They are ironically the same kind of arrogant people who seek to dictate how others must live. Therefore the political leaders goal of seeking to stop terrorists is really a means to seek to stop opposition to their position of power. So they are seeking to identify all opponents and then judge who are the most extreme opponents. The danger as always is as history shows, the people in power will always feature creep their power over people to add more ways to make lesser punishments for lesser opponents. Also the law is what they say is the law. Plus they often don't use direct punishments for opposition. They instead create ever more options for using more ways to punish people such as fines and other punishments to force compliance with their wishes. So even if they do not have direct laws to punish direct opponents they will instead use and create other laws to punish opponents simply to make their lives more difficult so they are distracted from being opponents. After all these people in power prove their deceitful manipulative nature which combined with their need to dictate how others must live, shows just what a nightmare we are heading into. We are not heading towards freedom and fairness, we are heading towards a world ruled by dictators.

      ... Which brings us back to ... there has always been very good reasons why throughout history, people all around the world have tried very hard to protect their privacy, liberty and freedom from state interference. Fail to learn from history and we walk right back into the same problems again, only this time, with the power of ever better (yet ever more abused) technology, the state is becoming more powerful than at any time in history and yet the people in power have shown countless times how their kind cannot just be trusted with ever increasing power. Their actions have to be policed or they become part of the problem. Yet they are amassing more power than at any point in history.

      We are moving into a world of endless spying and micro management over us all which is then backed up with endless fines, punishments, rules, regulations and law changes. The future is looking like a very grim endless misery of their relentless control over us all and yet we cannot speak out against it all without being labelled as wrong and then quietly punished back into silence. :(

      1. PT


        You misunderstand the motives. While this may look on the surface like some Machiavellian plan to enslave us all, at the bottom it's just simple economics. As with many other projects - for example, Reagan's cruise missiles spring to mind - the objective is not that they should perform the functions listed in the spec, but that they should siphon worthwhile amounts of taxpayers' money to the private sector. Projects like this can't be stopped by protests and appeals to civil liberty, they have to be completed and paid for before they can be abandoned. This one is no particular threat, it will just generate more terabytes of data that nobody ever analyzes or acts on, since hiring people is expensive. It will be like a huge golem wandering around blindly and aimlessly - sure there may be a few innocent casualties, but pretty soon people will just learn to get out of its way. The only Orwellian thing about it is the need for continual war to maintain the paranoia level, otherwise the politicians can't be threatened with being "soft on terror".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good grief Charlie Brown

    If the US are so worried about their essential infrastructure why are they connecting it to a public network. Then again having a look at the article again ... power ... telecoms ... transport infrastructure, may be links to the internet. Not much connection to the greatest porn server known to man kind.

    I suspect the story here is that the defence contractors in the US have managed to convince the government to waste more of 'our' tax dollars solving a problem that doesn't exist. Rather than any particular intrusion on personal privacy. As the saying goes 'a fool and his .....'. Unlike Fuzzy implies above that fool would be the current incumbent of the White House rather than the previous. Or even the both of them.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Black Helicopters


      It's not a public network, it is in fact a private network.

      Well the ownership of it is in private hands, but then that is the American dream, it doesn’t matter how you make your money as long as you make lots of it. Hence the private network industry is contracted to support public/military functionally.

      This keeps everybody happy:-

      The grubermant are happy because they can claim they are protection the public finances by getting a service for the lowest cost bidder.

      The civil servants are happy because the running of public services is now somebody elses problem leaving then free to concentrate on career advancement.

      The military leaders are happy because when they retire they can get jobs in the thankful private sector.

      The spy’s are happy because they have an excuse to spy on the citizens and boost their own budgets thereby proving their usefulness. After all, the biggest treat to their existence is not foreign terrorists/freedom fighters but senate oversight committee.

      The terrorists/freedom fighters are happy because the military are using commercial equipment to communicate with their spy planes and the signal is easily intercepted

      The unmarried mothers, whose boy friend lost his legs in Iraq and can’t work has to take a job as a cleaner that require her to take a job as a cleaner in a location that is 2 hours away on a bus or else she will loose her welfare entitlements is not too happy, but the people she is working for are as the yare getting a cheap house cleaner, and they are also paid up members of the republican/democrat parties.

      Meanwhile in other news, L.A. and New York are tuned into prison camps for people with unpatriotic thoughts. I can’t wait for Snake Plissken to EMP the whole place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        So it isn't a public network, mind as I understand the situation it is accessible by the public.

        Not really sure what point you are trying to make? Reading this article it talks mainly about installing monitoring infrastructure onto private networks, presumably the SCADA systems, telecoms etc. Not quite sure how they would monitor transport infrastructure.

        Whilst as alluded in the article it might just be possible to find out of somebody was at home through some contorted analysis of power usage which might just infringe some ones privacy .... it is still difficult to see how else this might be used for restricting other liberties etc.

        The big story, still seems to me, to be yet another wasteful goverment bung to contractors.

        Sorry as one may be for the unmarried missus of some Nam Vet what has this got to do with this article?

  9. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Secret stuff

    Yeah, very secret.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's great...

    You're some sort of droid in a power plant. Boss wants to cut overtime. You reply with email saying "What? You must be mad, this can only crash the plant and take down the whole gird...*are you some kind of terrorist sympathiser*?" And instead of a reprimand on the Monday morning, you arrive at work to find that the boss never survived the swat team that got him on his way home. Perfect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ..... it could be an episode of the Simpsons

      ... well it could you know.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The Reg has contacted Raytheon and the NSA for comment on Perfect Citizen, but thus far has not received any reply."

  12. Tom Cooke

    "Rainbows End"

    Read this to see the logical outcome - another great book from Vernor Vinge.

  13. The BigYin


    About 20 years ago Clifford Stoll warned the USA that KGB back hackers from Germany were attacking. The USA did nothing (although they did arrest a bunch of kids in the "Hacker Crackdown" a few years later).

    Then we had McKinnon, who waltzed into pretty much the same system using pretty much the same techniques (the systems till weren't secured). The USA's answer this time? To cry like a baby and demand McKinnon's head on a platter.

    They only threat to the USA is the feckin' USA! Apply some basic security, retards!

  14. F.

    Security. Only Imperfect Citizens resist.

    There could be no better name.

  15. Paul Coen


    The same Raytheon that, according to press reports, hasn't been able to get the perimeter security system working properly at any of the four airports run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey?

    Tests at Teterboro Airport have resulted in a lot of squirrel-related false alarms.

    It may be less about Big Brother, and more about funneling billions in public money into private companies who aren't held accountable. Again.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Highly appropriate

    "Perfect Citizen"

    The *only* kind they expect to have left once the system has gone live and all "anomalies" have been eliminated.

    Black helo's. I think so.

  17. misterPaul


    Sounds eerily like a number of situations in Terminator :TSCC

    I'm stacking tinned food for judgement day

  18. Marcel Esser

    Time to fight the good fight

    Time to use more encryption.

  19. TkH11

    @Graham Marsden

    My vote is on the failed AI.

    Perhaps more worrying is the similarity of such ramblings with those penned by psychopath killers such has Roal Moat.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Please feel free to have a waffle, for a rant never achieved or delivered anything useful

      "My vote is on the failed AI." .... TkH11 Posted Thursday 8th July 2010 15:46 GMT

      And are you well schooled and experienced in AI, TkH11? Turing BetaTested to Full Transparency and Valuable Stealthy Weapon Standards are you, which is slow to appear here, on this thread/entangled string?

      El Reg, why is it, that now, there is such an unfortunate lag between submission and appearance of posts? It kills the vibrancy of virile and robust conversation ..... and is only a relatively recent introduction to the board.

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @I'm less worried by the NSA

    What about if you are a competitor to Raytheon?

    And Raytheon have just installed a sealed black box on your corporate LAN?

    What about if you are a foreign company in the US that might be competing with a US company?

    What if that other company was vital to the US defence, or was vital to the re-election of a US senator, or just paid some programmer to get a copy of all your traffic ?

    If you were Raytheon would you agree to the French government installing monitoring gear on your LAN? Why is it any different if the US government are installing monitoring gear at Airbus?

  21. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Hmmmm ...

    I think I'd rather have Raytheon messing with SCADA systems than Google.

    My life would be richer and Street View less invasive if timed to coincide with my shower in the morning, that's not the point. If Google ran the show, would the Water Company's Facebook Page automatically sync with the Electric Company's gmail account ? I can see some flush and dash timing issues here that weren't part of the good old days ...

    I'm considered a troll in the Web Transparency "Business". Tough shit. I just can't imagine anything worse than if the Water Company's cheapest and easiest software replacement solution already has a convenient Google API tunnel built in. Why give the kitchen sink your Bank Account Number if the toilet can't keep a secret ? Orlowski, you listening ?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Goodbye democracy (if there's any of it left)

    It seems to me that East-Germany was ahead of US and EU about 40 years with Stasi: All-encompassing surveillance of everybody and everything, all the time.

    EU and USA are just now doing exactly same thing and "Homeland Security" is a very clear sign of what is the purpose of that organization: Removing basic liberties, asap.

    Now NSA has joined the bandwagon also. In EU most of the liberties were so-called liberties anyway and never a practice, nowadays even the formalities are removed one by one and fascism is stepping in. EU has even exactly the same command structure the Soviet Union had: Central committee (so called "comission") decides everything (bribery allowed) and so called parliament agrees or not, it doesn't really matter at all, desicions are already done and parliament has no power over comission, no matter what.

    There's only one party: Brussels party, but even that is not relevant because every one is bought by big money: Directives are for big corporations by big corporate marionets, just like in the US. In that context civil liberties are a nuisance and those must be abolished.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Rising from the Ashes

    So, have they finally came up with a way to implement Total Information Awareness so it can't be subject to public scrutiny, oversight, or outcry?

    Changing the focus away from the person and merely to everything else that person interacts with is not reducing the privacy concerns nor the automatic assumption of guilt that would REQUIRE a judge-signed warrant FOR EACH INSTANCE OF MONITORING.

    Such assurances of a free society are so passe, no? Je qui que NON!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It is feared by some in the US intelligence/defence community that unfriendly powers and organisations are already engaged in probing these systems with a view to learning how to attack them."

    If McKinnon's attacks in mind maybe they should be looking to their own sysadmins before they look elsewhere? Leaving no passwords on networked computers and no firewalls protecting those computers is fucking stupid at best, and what's the betting that some people haven't learned from these mistakes and are still doing it?

    "You've got to instrument the network to know what's going on, so you have situational awareness to take action," an unnamed military source told the paper

    Come again?

    "You've got to instrument the network to know what's going on ..."

    You've got to what the what?

    "You've got to instrument the network ..."

    Well look pal, I know a few things about orchestration, but instrumenting a network - that would take some kinda genius. Will the bassoons take only the lower-level packets, while the flute and piccolos take the higher elements of the stack? What about the timpani, hmm? You need to give the percussionist something to do.

    Maybe you meant you'd need to measure the network using instrumentation? So why the noun where there should be verb? No understandy? If I fist you round the head would that make things clearer? Fucking stupid military-yank speak.

    1. david wilson

      @Silver Fox

      >>"Maybe you meant you'd need to measure the network using instrumentation? So why the noun where there should be verb?"

      Surely, verbing nouns (and vice versa) is pretty common technical practice, and it's only where it gets convoluted that it's 'wrong'.

      If it's perfectly clear what someone is saying, and it's significantly more compact than other descriptions, and doesn't grate too much (which I would admit is subjective), then it's likely to happen.

      There are countless words in English where verb and noun are the same, where without doing loads of research it's hard to tell whether noun and verb started being used at the same time, or one usage led the other by some amount, possibly winding some purist up when the other usage cropped up.

      In the case of the verb 'instrument', it does seem to have a reasonably clear understood meaning, namely to place instruments on a target object or system for indefinite future use, in the same way that I could tile or slate a roof, wire a house, or concrete a driveway.

      The implicit indefiniteness of 'instrument' seems if anything a closer match to the planned reality than the transient 'measure using instrumentation'.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I use a simplified form of lpopman's 4 step algorithm for amanfrommars1 posts:-

    1. Start reading next post.

    Even more effective, methinks...

  26. Stas Antropov

    Yeah, right

    I highly doubt this project will ever get past analysis-paralysis stage.

  27. Trollslayer

    Doesn't this place have a constitution?

    Hey, the rule there is if you can get away with it then it is legal.

    I would rant but there are so many examples I'd only list a fraction of them.

    1984 meets Bladerunner.


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