11-24-2002, 11:11 PM
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<h2><font color=#003399>Pentagon Drops Plan to Curb Net Anonymity</font></h2>
A Defense Department agency recently considered--and rejected--a far-reaching plan that would sharply curtail online anonymity by tagging e-mail and Web browsing with unique markers for each Internet user.
The idea involved creating secure areas of the Internet that could be accessed only if a user had such a marker, called eDNA, according to a report in Friday's New York Times.
eDNA grew out of a private brainstorming session that included Tony Tether, president of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the newspaper said, and that would have required at least some Internet users to adopt biometric identifiers such as voice or fingerprints to authenticate themselves.
A DARPA spokeswoman said on Friday that the idea, which had been proposed by the agency, was no longer being considered.
Walker said it was a "decision by DARPA management" not to pursue the idea, which was explored at a two-day workshop in California in August and which drew sharp criticism from the group of computer and privacy experts that DARPA convened to review the proposal.
Depending on how eDNA might have been implemented, Congress could have enacted a law requiring Internet providers to offer connectivity only to authenticated users, or government regulations could have ordered that fundamental protocols such as TCP/IP be rewritten or new ones created to handle authentication techniques.
Run by John Poindexter, the retired vice admiral who was an adviser to President Ronald Reagan and who became embroiled in the Iran-Contra scandal, the IAO also was involved in the eDNA review.
Earlier this week, the Senate passed a bill, expected to be signed by President Bush this month, to create a Department of Homeland Security in a massive reorganization of federal agencies.
A portion of the bill, the Cyber Security Enhancement Act, expands the ability of police to conduct Internet or telephone eavesdropping without first obtaining a court order, and grants Internet providers more latitude to disclose information about subscribers to police.
Also this week, a secretive federal court removed procedural barriers for federal agents conducting surveillance, giving them broad authority to monitor Internet use, record keystrokes and employ other surveillance methods against terror and espionage suspects.
Defense official: No privacy at risk On Wednesday, Defense Department undersecretary Pete Aldridge defended the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program to reporters, saying "there are no privacy issues" at stake with a prototype under development.
Full Story <font color="red"><u>Here</u></font>