AT&T Invents Programming Language to Spy on Americans

What do you get when you combine a cool distributed system, new programming language, and illegal government spying? Apparently, a programming language named Hancock:

An AT&T research paper published in 2001 and unearthed today by Andrew Appel at Freedom to Tinker shows how the phone company uses Hancock-coded software to crunch through tens of millions of long distance phone records a night to draw up what AT&T calls “communities of interest” — i.e., calling circles that show who is talking to whom.

I’m going to add this to my reading list as it also adds graph theory, clustering, and programming languages, into the mix.

I think this post by Threat Level might be a bit alarmist though. While this tool can be used for evil purposes it can just as easily be used for good.

For example, one could use Hancock to determine clusters and then keep calling records together in a database.

They can also use it for legitimate FISA warrant data collection purposes.

As long as the government has a warrant AT&T should comply. If not they should prepare to be sued.



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