Excellent article by Howard Dratch this week on Blogcritics about another anti-terror program by the government. This time, they are monitoring blogs for information that may be useful in fighting terror.
In the article, Dratch quotes the president of Framingham-based Versatile Information Systems:
The fact that the web is a vast source of information is sometimes overlooked by military analysts,’ Kokar said. ‘Our research goal is to provide the warfighter with a kind of information radar to better understand the information battlespace.
We are all on the radar now. Versatile Information Systems is a cutting-edge information solutions corporation specializing in adaptive use of technologies. It is being paid half a million dollars in a three-year deal to monitor the blogosphere. Here is the military explanation.
According to their web site:
VIS provides consulting as well as development and support services to businesses in the area of new information technologies. In particular, VIS specializes in development of ontologies that capture the business rules and the domain knowledge of the business as well as development and support of re-engineering of information systems to ontology based systems, including annotation of incoming information in the language of the ontology, integration and fusion of information coming from multiple and disparate sources, semantic web services and flexible query answering using generic logic-based reasoners.
So now, the military is contracting with a private sector company to scan web logs for information that may be useful in fighting the war on terror. I’ll say for the record, my publishing of controversial cartoons and linking to web sites that generate a buzz (but might not be politically correct) is in no way an indication of any terrorist plot.
I think that VIS has been put in an indefensible position. The only problem is that not enough Americans actually care enough to take a stand. It makes crisis management efforts easier, but at what cost? Is anyone else in the multi-multi-million-blog world bothered by the fact that every word we type will be scanned for subversive language? The government did it 50 years ago in the name of fighting communism–a perceived threat–and today the media is again coming under fire in the name of freedom–fighting terror.
I quote Edward R. Murrow a lot because he is my idol. He had a response to this kind of action by the government: “the terror is right here in this room.”
The room is the Internet now. It is a big room.
Does anyone still think the New York Times should mind its own business when keeping tabs on our government?