DARPA funds TIA privacy study

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding a contract to examine privacy protection in the use of terrorist tracking applications, such as the DARPA-led Total Information Awareness (TIA) program.

The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate awarded the 42-month contract to the Palo Alto Research Center April 10. The contract is worth more than $3.5 million.

In theory, TIA would enable national security analysts to detect, classify, track, understand and pre-empt terrorist attacks against the United States by drawing upon surveillance and patterns in public and private transactions.

Under the contract, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Palo Alto Research Center engineers will focus on creating privacy filters, "aliasing" methods and automated data expunging agents to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and people not involved with foreign terrorists, said Patrick McCabe, program manager in the directorate's Information and Intelligence Exploitation Division.

"We envision software that will mask the identity of any individual whose pattern of activities triggers the suspicion of investigators," McCabe said in a release. "Additional authorizations would be required and some formal process established to allow an investigator to get an individual's identification. The research will also develop an access control capability that ensures that identification data is released only to appropriate, authorized users."

In another initiative, the Information Directorate recently awarded a $4.5 million contract to Orincon Information Assurance for research to enhance computer network security.

The one-year contract, called World Infrastructure Security Environment, is funded at congressional direction under the Small Business Innovation Research program. Research will focus on applying software agents previously developed by the company.

"Orincon engineers will develop capabilities to monitor individual transactions — any data transfer or passing of data — in real time," said 1st Lt. Matthew Manger, program manager in the directorate's Defensive Information Warfare Branch in a release. "The technology will alert analysts about information attacks utilizing a cost/benefit model and will recommend information-based countermeasures."

Agent technology has the potential to assist warfighters with the strategy and tactics needed in defensive information warfare. The technology is expected to benefit the military, as well as offer various commercial applications.

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