[Politech] MIT Media Lab project on "Things that Fink?" [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Thu Apr 01 2004 - 11:27:24 PST

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    [April fool's warning, of course... --Declan]
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Things that Fink: For Politech (anonymous posting, please)
    Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 14:24:01 -0500
    From: deleted
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    I found this announcement on an internal Media Lab mailing list.  I
    thought it might be of interest to your readers.  Please remove my
    name and email address if you choose to post it.
    Embargo: April 1, 2004.
    Today the MIT Media Lab announced the "Things that Fink" research
    consortium, a ground-breaking joint academic/industry/government
    venture to explore the benefits of ubiquitous surveillance in the
    public and private sectors.
    The "Things that Fink" consortium is an extension of the Media Lab's
    successful "Things that Think" (TTT) research consortium, with an
    emphasis on RFID, data mining, sensor networks, biometrics, and
    behavior modeling technologies.  The involvement of DARPA and the
    newly created Homeland Security Agency reflects both a new level of
    involvement by the government in funding Media Lab work and a
    recognition of the growing synergy between private-sector and
    public-sector surveillance efforts.
    "The success of the CAPS II passenger profiling system, and the
    successors to the TIA (Total Information Awareness) project, depend
    heavily on the active cooperation of the private sector in the
    aggregation of personal financial, travel, and other data," said one
    Media Lab researcher. "Fortunately, privacy invasion has significant
    economic benefits for our sponsors."
    The benefits of ubiquitous surveillance are enormous, say TTF
    sponsors.  "Data aggregation is just the beginning.  Imagine being
    able to track every piece of equipment in your lab, or every
    employee's location.  A smart network of tags and sensors can reveal
    almost everything about your employees' work-place performance,
    habits, even the most intimate details of their personal lives."  said
    one CEO, "And the cost is so low.  The only real expense is personal
    But it doesn't stop in the workplace.  The real goal of TTF is to
    extend the benefits of ubiquitous surveillance into the world at
    large.  "This technology is everywhere," said one researcher.  "The
    combination of bank cards, closed circuit cameras, and RFID tags
    already in use make for an almost seamless web of surveillance.  We
    just have to pull it together --- and access to this data is getting
    easier all the time."
    A few researchers have raised privacy concerns, "Privacy just isn't an
    issue," says Professor Blackbridge, chairman of the Media Lab. "People
    are giving up their privacy in the workplace, in the market, and even
    at home without a second thought.  If they don't care, why should we?"
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