August 13th, 2004

sharp, arrow, angry

implausible security

boingboing_net points out a New Scientist article about the Greek Olympic security that claims that:
Using software provided by UK company Autonomy, conversations can be converted into text and scanned for phrases that could be linked to terrorist activity. Autonomy says the system is conversant in Greek, English, Arabic and Farsi, as well as other major European languages.
Since I work in this business (specifically, working on transcription of conversation), I quite frankly doubt that they're able to convert conversations from all these languages.

Furthermore,"Arabic" is not only one oral language, and any Arabic-speaking who were interested in concealing their own work from this kind of snoop would (simply enough) speak (*gasp*) their own Arabic. Unless their Arabic just happens to be Egyptian broadcast standard, we just don't have the data to transcribe Arabic dialect.

The only thing I could imagine as an alternative would be to be doing word-spotting -- but the phrase "bomb" etcetera is going to include a lot of false positives...

In domestic news, we see another trial balloon from the Bush administration, in their usual style of "this was just a suggestion": the likely new head of the CIA is proposing to spy on Americans at the whim of the President.
“This language on its face would have allowed President Nixon to authorize the CIA to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters,” Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as general counsel of the CIA between 1995 and 1996, told NEWSWEEK. “I can’t imagine what Porter had in mind.”
Bad security, but now everybody in Athens and America is being surveilled. What a brave new world, that has such people in't!
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