Archive for May, 2009

Analyzing covert social networks

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Science Daily notes a social networking paper that sounds interesting.

“A new approach to analyzing social networks, reported in the current issue of the International Journal of Services Sciences, could help homeland security find the covert connections between the people behind terrorist attacks. The approach involves revealing the nodes that act as hubs in a terrorist network and tracing back to individual planners and perpetrators.”

Yoshiharu Maeno, Yukio Ohsawa, Analyzing covert social network foundation behind terrorism disaster, nt. J. Services Sciences, 2009, 2, pp.125-141. (preprint).

Abstract: This paper addresses a method to analyse the covert social network foundation hidden behind the terrorism disaster. It is to solve a node discovery problem, which means to discover a node, which functions relevantly in a social network, but escaped from monitoring on the presence and mutual relationship of nodes. The method aims at integrating the expert investigator’s prior understanding, insight on the terrorists’ social network nature derived from the complex graph theory and computational data processing. The social network responsible for the 9/11 attack in 2001 is used to execute simulation experiment to evaluate the performance of the method.

Privacy and the law

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The ABA Journal news blog has an post, Fordham Law Class Collects Personal Info About Scalia; Supreme Ct. Justice Is Steamed, on privacy and the law — or at least one very famous lawyer: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Joel Reidenberg teaches a course on information privacy law at Fordham University and illustrates the scale of the problem empirically.

“Last year, when law professor Joel Reidenberg wanted to show his Fordham University class how readily private information is available on the Internet, he assigned a group project. It was collecting personal information from the Web about himself. This year, after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made public comments that seemingly may have questioned the need for more protection of private information, Reidenberg assigned the same project. Except this time Scalia was the subject, the prof explains to the ABA Journal in a telephone interview.

His class turned in a 15-page dossier that included not only Scalia’s home address, home phone number and home value, but his food and movie preferences, his wife’s personal e-mail address and photos of his grandchildren, reports Above the Law.

And, as Scalia himself made clear in a statement to Above the Law, he isn’t happy about the invasion of his privacy: “Professor Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any,” the justice says, among other comments.