From CNET News
A Defense Department agency recently considered--and
rejected--a far-reaching plan that would sharply curtail online
anonymity by tagging e-mail and Web browsing with unique markers for
each Internet user.
The idea involved creating secure areas of the
Internet that could be accessed only if a user had such a marker, called
eDNA, according to a report in Friday's New York Times.
eDNA grew out of a private brainstorming session that
included Tony Tether, president of the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency ( DARPA ),
the newspaper said,
and that would have required at least some Internet users
to adopt biometric identifiers such as voice or fingerprints to
A DARPA spokeswoman said on Friday that the idea, which had been proposed by the agency, was no longer being considered.
We were intrigued by the difficult computing science
research involved in creating network capabilities that would provide
the same level of accountability in cyberspace that we now have in the
Depending on how eDNA might have been implemented,
Congress could have enacted a law requiring Internet providers to offer
connectivity only to authenticated users, or government regulations
could have ordered that fundamental protocols
such as TCP/IP be rewritten or new ones created to handle
Friday's report comes as a DARPA unit, the Information
Awareness Office, has come under fire for its plan to create a
prototype of a massive database that would collect information about
everything from Americans' credit card purchases to
veterinary records and public information.
At the same time, the government has had notable
success in strengthening its oversight of Internet activities. Earlier
this week, the Senate passed a bill, expected to be signed by President
Bush this month, to create a Department of Homeland
Security in a massive reorganization of federal agencies.
A portion of the bill, the Cyber Security Enhancement Act, expands the
ability of police to conduct Internet or telephone eavesdropping without
first obtaining a court order, and grants
Internet providers more latitude to disclose information
about subscribers to police.
Also this week, a secretive federal court removed
procedural barriers for federal agents conducting surveillance, giving
them broad authority to monitor Internet use, record keystrokes and
employ other surveillance methods against terror
and espionage suspects.