NSA Granted Patent: Can Now Locate Anyone on Internet
The National Security Agency was granted a patent on September 20, 2005 for new technology that allows them to identify the physical location of any web surfer. My checks at the patent office indeed confirmed US Patent 6,947,978. The NSA's stated uses for the technology included "effectiveness of advertising across geographic regions."
original news source:
Method for geolocating logical network addresses
Method for geolocating logical network addresses on electronically switched dynamic communications networks, such as the Internet, using the time latency of communications to and from the logical network address to determine its location. Minimum round-trip communications latency is measured between numerous stations on the network and known network addressed equipment to form a network latency topology map. Minimum round-trip communications latency is also measured between the stations and the logical network address to be geolocated. The resulting set of minimum round-trip communications latencies is then correlated with the network latency topology map to determine the location of the network address to be geolocated.
The NSA is one of the most secretive US agencies, and while they might use such an advancement to study the "effectiveness of advertising across geographic regions," or "flagging a password that could be noted or disabled if not used from or near the appropriate location," one has to wonder what is really up their sleeves.
A little thought into this yields a whole new barrage of possible uses. But what little protection anonymous proxy servers and confidentiality agreements with ISP's and the like offered the average internet user will now dissapear into thin air. The bottom line is if they want to, they can find out exactly where you are. No search warrant requests, no inquiries to ISP's, no nothing. Big Brother has finally broken through the last tier of privacy.