Who better to test privacy software than the world's spies?

    Date13 Feb 2001
    CategoryGovernment
    3118
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    How's this for a curious pairing? Stephen Hsu and his partners at SafeWeb Inc. launch a Web site offering the utmost in Internet privacy - and then hook up with the notoriously intrusive Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA, in this case, wants to use a SafeWeb program to mask its own movements on the Internet, so it can gather information incognito.. . . How's this for a curious pairing? Stephen Hsu and his partners at SafeWeb Inc. launch a Web site offering the utmost in Internet privacy - and then hook up with the notoriously intrusive Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA, in this case, wants to use a SafeWeb program to mask its own movements on the Internet, so it can gather information incognito.

    SafeWeb suggests that the CIA also might use its technology to allow its far-flung agents and informants to communicate home, without the countries they are spying on ever knowing.

    What's puzzling is why a tiny, year-old start-up would want to link up with an agency that is the nemesis of privacy buffs everywhere.

    "I'm sure we'll take a hit from the 5% of our most paranoid customers," says Mr. Hsu, SafeWeb's 34-year-old co-founder and a theoretical physicist by training. But the CIA connection, he says, is deliberately distant. SafeWeb will provide the agency with customized software, but the CIA will have no access to the company's Web computers or to the workings of its core software, he insists.

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