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A Congressman Seems to Support Palantir Gotham for US Army Personnel

September 23, 2016

I read “Commentary: The US Army Should Rethink Its Approach to DCGS.” The write up is interesting because it helped me understand the relationships which exist between an elected official (Congressman Duncan Hunter, Republican from California) and a commercial enterprise (Palantir Technologies). Briefly: The Congressman believes the US Army should become more welcoming to Palantir Technologies’ Gotham system.

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A representation of the Department of Defense’s integrated defense acquisition, technology, and life cycle management system.

The write up points out that the US Army is pretty good with tangible stuff: Trucks, weapons, and tanks. The US Army, however, is not as adept with the bits and the bytes. As a result, the US Army’s home brew Distributed Common Ground System is not sufficiently agile to keep pace with the real world. DCGS has consumed about $4 billion and is the product of what I call the “traditional government procurement.”

The Congressman (a former Marine) wants to US Army to embrace Palantir Gotham in order to provide a better, faster, and cheaper system for integrating different types of information and getting actionable intelligence.

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US Marine Captain Duncan Hunter before becoming a Congressman. Captain Hunter served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Captain Hunter was promoted to major in 2012.

The write up informed me:

Congress, soldiers and the public were consistently misinformed and the high degree of dysfunction within the Army was allowed to continue for too long. At least now there is verification—through Army admittance—of the true dysfunction within the program.

Palantir filed a complaint which was promptly sealed. The Silicon Valley company appears to be on a path to sue the US Army because Palantir is not the preferred way to integrate information and provide actionable intelligence to US Army personnel.

The Congressman criticizes a series of procedures I learned to love when I worked in some of the large government entities. He wrote:

he Army and the rest of government should take note of the fact that the military acquisition system is incapable of conforming to the lightening pace and development targets that are necessary for software. This should be an important lesson learned and cause the Army—especially in light of repeated misleading statements and falsehoods—to rethink its entire approach on DCGS and how it incorporates software for the Army of the future.

The call to action in the write up surprised me:

The Army has quality leaders in Milley and Fanning, who finally understand the problem. Now the Army needs a software acquisition system and strategy to match.

My hunch is that some champions of Palantir Gotham were surprised too. I expected the Congressman to make more direct statements about Palantir Gotham and the problems the Gotham system might solve.

After reading the write up, I jotted down these observations:

  • The DCGS system has a number of large defense contractors performing the work. One of them is IBM. IBM bought i2 Group. Before the deal with IBM, i2 sued Palantir Technologies, alleging that Palantir sought to obtain some closely held information about Analyst’s Notebook. The case was settled out of court. My hunch is that some folks at IBM have tucked this Palantir-i2 dust up away and reference it when questions about seamless integration of Gotham and Analyst’s Notebook arise.
  • Palantir, like other search and content processing vendors, needs large engagements. The millions, if not billions, associated with DCGS would provide Palantir with cash and a high profile engagement. A DCGS deal would possibly facilitate sales of Gotham to other countries’ law enforcement and intelligence units.
  • The complaint may evolve into actual litigation. Because the functions of Gotham are often used for classified activities, the buzz might allow high-value information to leak into the popular press. Companies like Centrifuge Systems, Ikanow, Zoomdata, and others would benefit from a more open discussion of the issues related to the functioning of DCGS and Gotham. From Palantir’s point of view, this type of information in a trade publication would not be a positive. For competitors, the information could be a gold mine filled with high value nuggets.

Net net: The Congressman makes excellent points about the flaws in the US Army procurement system. I was disappointed that a reference to the F 35 was not included. From my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek, the F 35 program is a more spectacular display of procurement goofs.

More to come. That’s not a good thing. A fully functioning system would deliver hardware and software on time and on budget. If you believe in unicorns, you will like me have faith in the government bureaucracy.

Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2016

Revenue Takes a Backseat to Patent Filings at IBM

September 9, 2016

The post on Slashdot titled IBM Has Been Awarded an Average of 24 Patents Per Day So Far in 2016 compares the patent development emphasis of major companies, with IBM coming out on top with 3,617 patent awards so far in 2016, according to a Quartz report. Patents are the bi-product of IBM’s focus on scientific research, as the report finds,

The company is in the middle of a painful reinvention, that sees the company shifting further away from hardware sales into cloud computing, analytics, and AI services. It’s also plugging away on a myriad of fundamental scientific research projects — many of which could revolutionize the world if they can come to fruition — which is where many of its patent applications originate. IBM accounted for about 1% of all US patents awarded in 2015.

Samsung claimed a close second (with just over 3,000 patents), and on the next rung down sits Google (with roughly 1,500 patents for the same period), Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, and Apple. Keep in mind though, that IBM and Samsung have been awarded more than twice as many patents as Google and the others, making it an unstoppable patent machine. You may well ask, what about revenue? They will get back to you on that score later.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 9, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Cairo Authorities Perform Bitcoin Sting

September 8, 2016

Egyptian authorities refuse to let a 30-year-old dentist get away with trading in digital currency, despite there being no law on the books to prohibit the practice.  The Merkle informs us, “Egyptian Dentist Apprehended in Bitcoin Sting Operation in Cairo.” Reporter Traderman reveals:

According to today’s post on the facebook page of The Ministry of the Interior, Mr. Ahmed was captured with $13,900 in cash, as well as a cellular phone and a smart tablet that were used in the trading operation. Authorities setup Ahmed by contacting him about a potential deal on LocalBitcoins, where Ahmed was selling the digital currency for $570 per coin.

The investigation was carried out with the cooperation of the Cairo Department of Public Safety and the Cairo Security Directorate. Mr. Ahmed has apparently confessed to trading bitcoin, but it is unclear what specific law Mr. Ahmed was breaking, as there are no regulations on digital currencies in Egypt.

The write-up tells us manufacturer AMECO, based in Cairo, has been accepting bitcoin apparently unmolested since 2014. Traderman also notes that, as of their writing, about seven Egyptian bitcoin vendors operating on LocalBitcoins, all of whom seem to be running modest operations. It will be interesting to see whether law-enforcement continues to crack down on bitcoin within their borders, and, if so, what justification authorities may offer. Perhaps they will go so far as to pass a law.

Cynthia Murrell, September 8, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

Palantir: More Legal Excitement

September 6, 2016

One of the Beyond Search goslings directed my attention to a legal document “Palantir Technologies Inc. (”Palantir”) Sues Defendants Marc L. Abramowitz…” The 20 page complaint asserts that a Palantir investor sucked in proprietary information and then used that information outside the boundaries of Sillycon Valley norms of behavior. These norms apply to the one percent of the one percent in my opinion.

The legal “complaint” points to several patent documents which embodied Palantir’s proprietary information. The documents require that one use the Justia system to locate; specifically, Provisional Application No. 62/072,36 Provisional Application No. 62/066,716, and Provisional Application No. 62/094,888. These provisional applications, I concluded, reveal that Palantir seeks to enter insurance and health care type markets. This information appears to put Palantir Technologies at a competitive disadvantage.

Who is the individual named in the complaint?

Marc Abramowitz, who is associated with an outfit named KT4. KT4 does not have much of an online presence. The sparse information available to me about Abramowitz is that he is a Harvard trained lawyer and connected to Stanford’s Hoover econo-think unit. Abramowitz’s link to Palantir is that he invested in the company and made visits to the Hobbits’ Palo Alto “shire” part of his work routine.

Despite the legalese, the annoyance of Palantir with Abramowitz seeps through the sentences.

For me what is interesting is that IBM i2 asserted several years ago that Palantir Technologies improperly tapped into proprietary methods used in the Analyst’s Notebook software product and system. See “i2 and Palantir: Resolved Quietly.”

One new twist is that the Palantir complaint against Abramowitz includes a reference to Abramowitz’s appropriating of the word “Shire.” If you are not in the know in Sillycon Valley, Palantir has referenced its offices as the shire; that is, the firm’s office in Palo Alto.

When I read the document, I did not spot a reference to Hobbits or seeing stones.

When I checked this morning (September 6, 2016), the document was still publicly accessible at the link above. However, Palantir’s complaint about the US Army’s procurement system was sealed shortly after it was filed. This Abramowitz complaint may go away for some folks as well. If you can’t locate the Abramowitz document, you will have to up your legal research game. My hunch is that neither Palantir or Mr. Abramowitz will respond to your request for a copy.

There are several hypothetical, Tolkienesque cyclones from this dust up between and investor and the Palantir outfit, which is alleged to be a mythical unicorn:

  1. Trust seems to need a more precise definition when dealing with either Palantir and Abramowitz
  2. Some folks use Tolkein’s jargon and don’t want anyone else to “horn” in on this appropriation
  3. Filing patents on relatively narrow “new” concepts when one does not have a software engineering track record goes against the accepted norms of innovation
  4. IBM i2’s team may await the trajectory of this Abramowitz manner more attentively than the next IBM Watson marketing innovation.

Worth monitoring just for the irony molecules in this Palantir complaint. WWTK or What would Tolkien think? Perhaps a quick check of the seeing stone is appropriate.

Stephen E Arnold, September 6, 2016

Alphabet Google and the Gmail Ad Matter

August 27, 2016

Did you know that the Alphabet Google thing manages or provides email for about one billion users. No that’s not a record, search has that many “prospects” for advertisers.

I noted this story: “Google Faces Legal Action over Data Mining Emails.” In theory, humans at the Alphabet Google thing do not read one’s emails. I know that when I sent an email to a Googler, that person did not read the email. So there, doubting Tabithas and Tommies.

I learned from the write up, which I am confident is as valid as any other Internet news item:

… the US District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order denying Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by plaintiff Daniel Matera which alleged that Google violated federal and state wiretapping laws in its operation of Gmail. The Wiretap Act prohibits the interception of wire, oral and electronic communications.

I circled this passage as well:

In this latest twist, Judge Koh found Google’s policy of intercepting and scanning emails before they reach the inbox of the intended recipient may violate the California Wiretap Act and denied Google’s motion to dismiss Matera’s lawsuit. Matera is not a Google customer but claims that the “ubiquity of the email service” means that Google has still intercepted, scanned and analyzed his and many others’ emails [Matera] seeks to represent non-Gmail users “who have never established an email account with Google, and who have sent emails to or received emails from individuals with Google email accounts.”

The  Alphabet Google thing is certainly in the midst of a number of legal hassles. We love Google and its relevant search results. I have concluded that there are some folks who cannot hop on the Alphabet Google bandwagon. Cue up John Phillips Sousa remix, “The GOOG and Alphabet Forever.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 27, 2016

Russia Versus Alphabet Google: Mr. Putin May Use an iPhone

August 24, 2016

I read “Out-Of-Court Settlement Between Google & Russia Won’t Happen.” I assume the write up is accurate because everything on the Internet is true blue. The Alphabet Google thing has been jousting with a mere nation state over its approach to Android’s market methods.

Alphabet Google tried for an out of court settlement to negotiate the matter. Whipping out the checkbook is one part of the Alphabet Google business strategy when nation states become too big for their britches.

According to the write up:

In this case, the issue is that Google’s licensing rules require manufacturers to include a number of Google applications should they wish to install and use Android, the open-source operating system, on their smartphones and tablets. Google’s Russian competitor, Yandex, complained to the authorities in 2014 that Google was forcing manufacturers to both include the Google Search and other services along with the Google Play Store on Android-powered devices, but also that Google blocked manufacturers from installing competitor services.

Short summary: Bad, bad Alphabet Google. The fine for this flaunting of Russian laws is around US$6.5 billion. Russia seems to want cash and the Alphabet Google matter to go away for a short time.

I do not understand why mere nation states like Russia cannot get with the Alphabet Google program. Is the new Alphabet Google going to impose trade restrictions on Russia? Will Alphabet Google accuse Russia of violating human rights because companies are people too? Will Alphabet Google ask Android users to protest in front of the FSB office in Moscow? Does Mr. Putin use an iPhone?

So many questions.

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2016

Technology That Literally Can Read Your Lips (Coming Soon)

August 19, 2016

The article on Inquisitr titled Emerging New “Lip-Reading” Technology To Radically Revolutionize Modern-Day Crime Solving explains the advances in visual speech recognition technology. In 1974 Gene Hackman could have used this technology in the classic film “The Conversation” where he plays a surveillance expert trying to get better audio surveillance in public settings where background noise makes clarity almost impossible. Apparently, we haven’t come very far since the 70s when it comes to audio speech recognition, but recent strides in lip reading technology in Norwich have experts excited. The article states,

“Lip-reading is one of the most challenging problems in artificial intelligence so it’s great to make progress on one of the trickier aspects, which is how to train machines to recognize the appearance and shape of human lips.” A few years ago German researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology claim they’ve introduced a lip-reading phone that allowed for soundless communication, a development that was to mark a massive leap forward into the future of speech technology.”
The article concludes that while progress has been made, there is still a great deal of ground to cover. The complications inherent in recognizing, isolating, and classifying lip movement patterns makes this work even more difficult than audio speech recognition, according to the article. At any rate, this is good news for some folks who want to “know” what is in a picture and what people say when there is no audio track.

The article concludes that while progress has been made, there is still a great deal of ground to cover. The complications inherent in recognizing, isolating, and classifying lip movement patterns makes this work even more difficult than audio speech recognition, according to the article. At any rate, this is good news for some folks who want to “know” what is in a picture and what people say when there is no audio track.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, August 19, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

The Alphabet Google Thing: The Russia Glitch

August 15, 2016

I know that Alphabet Google is the darling of the Sillycon Valley set. I noted the allegedly accurate factoids in “Russia Fines Google $6.75 Million for Android Antitrust Violations.” No alleged I assume.

Alphabet Google, according to the write up:

…The country’s [Russia’s] Federation Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) said that Google forced mobile phone manufacturers to include Google search on the home screen of all Android devices and bundling other services with Google Play, while preventing manufacturers from pre-installing competing services. The case was opened in February 2014, when one of those rivals, Yandex, filed an official complaint against Google. Last year, the authorities decided that it had broken Russian competition law. The ruling was upheld again in March, when Google lost an appeal.

What’s interesting is that Google has a never-say-nyea attitude. I learned:

While Russia’s fine against Google is tiny, an order from the FAS demanding that the ad giant change the restrictions it places on device makers in the country could prove to be more damaging. Google is appealing against the order, with a hearing scheduled for August 16.

Does anyone care about Alphabet Google’s travails in Russia? One person. Margrethe Verstager, the EC’s competition commissioner. Just eight years ago, a Googler was supposed to hitch a ride on Russia’s Soyuz flight to the International Space Station. Since then, Russia seems to be taking a more critical look at the search advertising giant.

Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2016

The Reach of Cyber Threat Intelligence Companies

August 10, 2016

The social media monitoring complex appears to be gaining a follower. LittleSis News shared an article highlighting their investigative findings, You are being followed: The business of social media surveillance. This post not only reveals the technology companies engaged in surveillance and developing tools for surveillance, those at LittleSis News also filed freedom of information requests to twenty police departments about their social media monitoring. The article concludes with,

“Because social media incites within us a compulsion to share our thoughts, even potentially illegal ones, law enforcement sees it as a tool to preempt behavior that appears threatening to the status quo. We caught a glimpse of where this road could take us in Michigan, where the local news recently reported that a man calling for civil unrest on Facebook because of the Flint water crisis was nearly the target of a criminal investigation. At its worst, social media monitoring could create classes of “pre-criminals” apprehended before they commit crimes if police and prosecutors are able to argue that social media postings forecast intent. This is the predictive business model to which Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris aspires.”

In addition to Geofeedia, the other cyber threat intelligence companies listed are: BrightPlanet, ZeroFOX, Intrado, LifeRaft, Magnet Forensics, Media Sonar Technologies, Signal Corporation Limited. These companies specialize in everything from analyzing deep web content to digital forensics software. Ultimately data is their specialty, not people. These technologies and their applications will undoubtedly stir up questions about the relationship between people, the data they produce on social media, and state actors.

 

Megan Feil, August 10, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden/Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

Dark Web Purchases Potentially More Challenging Than Media Portrays

August 8, 2016

German TV journalists recently discovered acquiring weapons on the Dark Web may be more challenging than media coverage suggests. Vice’s Motherboard published an article on this called TV Journalists Try Buying AK-47 on Dark Web, Fail. Producers for German channel ARD, working for a show “Fear of terror—how vulnerable is Germany” lost about $800 in bitcoin during the attempted transaction through a middleman. We learned,

“It’s not totally clear if this was because the seller wasn’t legitimate, or whether the package had been intercepted. Regardless, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise: The dark web gun trade is rife with scammers. One con-artist previously told Motherboard he would ask legal sellers to send him photos of weapons next to a piece of paper with his username. From here, he would “just send a bag of sugar,” when an order came in. And undercover law enforcement agents also sell weapons in order to identify potential customers.”

Motherboard is careful to reference cases of successful Dark Web gun sales. Not that readers would be so quick to assume guns cannot be easily purchased on the Dark Web after seeing numerous media coverage that is the case. For the average reader, is the knowledge of the Dark Web from media or personal experience? We see a lot of articles reporting number of web sites that exist, perhaps because of the inability to accurately report a number of users on the Dark Web. While that may not be retrievable, perhaps the number of Tor downloads may be.

 

Megan Feil, August 8, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

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