October 1, 2005:
The U.S. National Security Agency (which usually builds, and breaks, codes for classified information) has quietly sought, and received, a patent for a method of finding out where an Internet user is by analyzing the timing of data sent and received by someone, as well as the known locations of IP addresses (whenever anyone logs on to the Internet, they are assigned an IP address.) The NSA believes the technique may have some commercial value, but it is also obviously useful for an intelligence agency. It appears that this patent covers a portion of an NSA data collection system, the portion believed to have some commercial potential. Government agencies frequently look for commercial applications for things that have been developed with government money. This looks good to Congress, and brings in some extra bucks.