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Simson Garfinkel

A View from Simson Garfinkel

CIA to Spy On Chat Rooms

This just in from Declan — back in April 2003, the CIA secretly agreed to fund a series of research projects to develop technology to spy on chat rooms, according to newly disclosed documents. The documents were obtained by the…

  • November 24, 2004

This just in from Declan — back in April 2003, the CIA secretly agreed to fund a series of research projects to develop technology to spy on chat rooms, according to newly disclosed documents.

The documents were obtained by the Electronic Privacy InformatioN Center and disclose a funding relationship whereby projects were funded by the National Science Foundation using money provided by the CIA.

It turns out that the chat-room surveillance project was reported earlier this year, but nobody knew that the CIA was behind it until recently.

Quoting Declan’s article:


EPIC director Marc Rotenberg, whose nonprofit group obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act, said the CIA’s clandestine involvement was worrisome. “The intelligence community is changing the priorities of scientific research in the U.S.,” Rotenberg said. “You have to be careful that the National Science Foundation doesn’t become the National Spy Foundation.”

Personally, I think that such research is long-overdue. We need technologies to monitor as many open channels as possible. Technology gives terrorists tremendous a tremendous multiplier; if we don’t make similar use of technology, we’re all be far worse off.

Of course, I’m speaking as the former CTO of a company that developed similar spy-technology.

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