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The Internet

RIAA's Encypted Music-Working with defense contractors?

Tom Holroyd passed along some interesting pieces of information from Eric S Arnum's recent piece over at SonicNet. Many of you saw that the RIAA has decided to lauch their Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). Well, that's not so interesting on it's own, but their choice of company is. It's a subsidary of SAIC, a privately held company that does work in secure defense commnuications. The company (SAIC) has worked with the CIA, NSA, and Navy, amongst others. Click below for the full story.
On Tuesday, the RIAA launched this effort to apply encryption keys to digital music, their Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). Ho hum.

The RIAA contracted with this consultancy called Global Integrity to run the SDTI Forum rather than run it themselves. Ho hum. But then I noticed that Global Integrity was a subsidiary of SAIC. Holy shit.

SAIC has been accused of being a CIA front, but that's probably false. What they are is a privately held company started by physicists from the Los Alamos NM lab who worked on nuclear weapons and studied the effects of radiation on humans. But SAIC now specializes in defense communications, specifically signal intelligence, so its customers include not just the CIA, but also NSA, Navy, National Reconnaiscence Agency, DISA, and DARPA.

They receive $900 million a year in classified, "black budget" national security communications contracts. See their press release on their annual report or the annual report itself (PDF: http://www.saic.com/news/1998report.html)

I first came across SAIC in 1995 when they bought Network Solutions Inc., which does all the domain name registrations for com, net, org, and edu. Therefore, SAIC has control of the database that contains the who, what & where for each and every Web site and email server in those domains -- pretty handy info for the NSA wiretappers...

Two years later, SAIC bought Bell Communications Research (Bellcore), which at the time assigned all area codes in North America, and still to this day provides the software that runs all (800) numbers and 80% of all US phone gear. Again, not a bad acquisition for a sigint contractor, to be running the Toll Free system and assigning area codes...

So now SAIC's consultants are going to help the RIAA decide what encryption schemes should be used to lock up digital music. As the church lady might say, "how conveeeeenient..." But if you buy the premise that entertainment is a strategic export, that preventing the Chinese and others from bootlegging Mariah Carey is a matter of national security, then why shouldn't SAIC be doing the encryption consulting?

I haven't heard of these guys at Global Integrity Corp. before. But anyone with an office in McLean, Virginia is most likely working for the spooks. Who suggested them to the RIAA?

Eric

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RIAA's Encypted Music-Working with defense contractors?

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