I went to a symposium on Search and Seizure in the digital age at Stanford last week.
One topic that kept popping up was the so called "Creepiness Factor" of various surveillance technologies. Just like the 'ol government standard for obscenity, we can't quite define creepy surveillance, but we know it when we see it.
One of the last speakers of the day was an Assistant US Attorney - based in Silicon Valley, and who focused on cyber crimes. I'm fairly sure that his name was Matthew Lamberti. Fairly early into his talk, it was plainly obvious that his opinions did not mesh too well with the rest of the room - at least after he quite proudly announced that he didn't think it was in any way creepy to go through someone's trash. Facial expressions around the room quickly changed.
After his talk was over, I walked up to him, introduced myself, and asked him what he thought of Tor.
(I'm paraphrasing here)
"What's that", he asked.
I explained that it was an anonymity preserving system that enabled hundreds of thousands of Internet users to browse the web and communicate anonymously.
He replied that he wasn't familiar with the technology, so he really couldn't answer my question.
Back in November, when I met with the Cybercrime specializing Assistant US Attorney in Indianpolis, his eyes lit up at the mere mention of Tor, and he proceeded to give me a long lecture on the evils of the technology, and how Indiana University has no business doing anything that even comes close to anonymity-promoting research.
I find it shocking, yet amazing that an Assistant US Attorney who works out of the San Jose DoJ office - who prosecutes Internet/IP crime cases all the time - in possibly the most high-tech areas in the country, and who has never heard of Tor.
Are the Indianapolis DoJ more Internet Savvy than those in Silicon Valley? Did I catch Mr Lamberti on an off day, or what?
And that's where my latest FOIA request will come in handy ;-)