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Datamining the NSA - Part I

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Some corrections to the recent media hype on this project

What will be done and what definitely not concerning datasets involved

Research by q/pis - the quintessenz public intelligence service.

The archive of the Biometrics Consortium was not hacked, as some international media suggested. The list archive was downloaded from October 2003 several times at least by one member. There were no search functions [keyword] until the middle of 2004.
A small script plus converting the text files into a UNIX .mbx file can hardly be called a hack. Given the case the downloader had logged into the archive as well using real name and password.

Information policy

When listmembers were informed first that their postings would undergo a process of data mining some uneasiness arose, some members protested. A description of the datamining project was handed in at the Austrian Data Protection Commission in order to see if mining was legal under Austrian law.
In the meantime the maintainers of the biometrics consortium had declared the list archive "public". BC-list members were invited to download the archive as well.
The basic restriction - not to republish postings from bc-list without prior consent of the respective author - has been respected. That is why there are currently [with one exception] no original postings to bc-list available in quintessenz database.
The answer of the Austrian Data Protection Commission then was positive. If mining the archive was the base for publication of articles on that matter, no restrictions would apply. Actions like matching the bc-archive datasets with other databases containing sensitive personal information would require a license containing restrictions.
Matching the list archive with databases containing social security numbers or private addresses is definitely not within the scope of this project.
Only those names of listmembers will be mentioned that are relevant to the history of the BC-project. All other names will be anonymized. Access to the full dataset [Bc-list archives plus two GB of other biometrics related doquments]is restricted to members of the research unit. The full dataset will not be opened to third parties with the possible exception of Austrian laws requiring us to do so.
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Data sources

  • Biometrics Consortium List Archive 1994-2004 [ca 60 MB text]. Containing postings of about 2500 different persons from US military and government agencies, worldwide biometrics business people, scientists, lobbyists etc.
  • One GB presentations and speakers biographies from various biometrics-related conference events. Roughly the same amount of data from international biometrics standardization groups [ISO/IEC, ICAO MRTD]
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Datamining the NSA

A short introduction to the "Biometric Consortium" - a NSA led incubator project started at the North Carolina Supercomputing Center in 1992

Beginnings of the Mailing_list in the year 1994, main players involved. State of the NSA at that time and the main incentives to appear for the first time in semi-public. List of original .mil posters, major changes of list policies in 1997. Founder Joseph P.Campbell and other NSA wits from the NCSC.

How Henry J. Boitel, current moderator of the BC-List appeared out of the box on Sept. 12 2001. The astonishing weekly news output of a single man.

The FBI, Homeland Security and the Army and the NSA. Which agency wants what kind of biometrics as a standard? The role of the biometrics industry in NOT finding a universal biometrics identification standard.

The key role of SAGEM Morpho in the modernization of the FBI's fingerprint database in the years until 2003. How SAGEM Morpho drew off the main share of the world's biometrics market in 2004 and was kicked in the butt in retaliation.

Why the main goal of the NSA's effort, a universal biometric ID-standard could not be achieved. From the "Biometrics Consortium" to the NSA's "SELinux" Project

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  • The BC's 2004 conference with an interesting list of sponsors
  • List of all BC's and other biometrics events
  • The North Carolina Super Computing Center
  • The National Biometric Security Center
  • The National Biometric Test Center - now an Archive
  • The BioAPI Consortium, founded to develop a biometric Application Programming Interface.
  • Department of Defense biometrics management office and fusion center
  • INCITS M1 Working group on biometrics
  • The ISO committe on biometrics JTC 1 Workgroup 37 [insert "biometric" to get the full list of documents]

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