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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Fwd: OpenBSD founder loses DARPA grant...

He who pays the piper ...    (01)

On Fri, 2003-04-25 at 11:26, Jack Park wrote:
> >From: "Brian J. Fox" <bfox@ua.com>
> >To: fsb@crynwr.com
> >
> >New York Times
> >April 24, 2003
> >
> >Canadian Programmer Says U.S. Cut Funding After Comments
> >by Jennifer Lee
> >
> >WASHINGTON - A respected Canadian computer programmer says the United
> >States government severed research financing for a computer security
> >project he was working on after he made remarks in the Canadian press
> >critical of the American military.
> >
> >The programmer, Theo de Raadt, the 35-year-old founder of an
> >international collaborative software project known as OpenBSD, had been
> >receiving support from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or
> >Darpa, a research arm of the American military that is closely tied to
> >the founding of the Internet.
> >
> >The money, part of a $2.3 million grant given to the University of
> >Pennsylvania, was part of a military effort to create computer systems
> >more resilient to hacking, viruses and other attacks. The American
> >military estimates that it experiences 250,000 cyberattacks each year.
> >
> >The controversy highlights the delicate balance between the military and
> >the anti-establishment bent of some in the technology community. It also
> >shows that the international pool of computer programmers and hackers,
> >possessing vast technological expertise, is not entirely sympathetic to
> >the American military's current role in world affairs.
> >
> >A recent interview with Mr. de Raadt, published by The Globe and Mail of
> >Toronto, portrayed him as being uneasy about the military source of the
> >financing. He was quoted as saying, "I try to convince myself that our
> >grant means a half of a cruise missile doesn't get built." The article
> >also said he considered the war in Iraq a grab for oil.
> >
> >Mr. de Raadt said that a few days after the interview was published,
> >Jonathan Smith, the Penn professor who heads the military grant project,
> >told him people had "expressed discomfort with what I had said." Then
> >last Friday Professor Smith sent out an e-mail message saying that work
> >had to cease immediately because the military stopped the financing and
> >the project was "over."
> >
> >Mr. de Raadt said this left the OpenBSD project in crisis because it had
> >already committed tens of thousands of dollars to bringing together 60
> >programmers from around the world for a four-day "hackathon" in Calgary
> >in May. Darpa money has supported other hackathons for this project.
> >
> >Some cautioned about reading too much into the military's decision.
> >"These kinds of `stop works' happen all the time," said Fernando
> >Pereira, the head of Penn's computer science department. "Federal
> >budgets and priorities change all the time."
> >
> >Nevertheless, some computer specialists saw the incident as a rebuke.
> >People quickly voiced their displeasure on Web sites, over e-mail lists
> >and to the organizations involved.
> >
> >On Monday, Darpa said it had not cut off all financing for the project,
> >just money for the hackathon. Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for Darpa, said
> >the agency was reviewing the rest of the project, which has three months
> >left in its two-year contract. Decisions about financing had been made
> >because of "recent world events and specifically the evolving threat
> >posed by increasingly capable nation-states," Ms. Walker said.
> >
> >Mr. de Raadt said the decision extended beyond the hackathon because the
> >project's staff members had been notified this week that their salaries
> >would no longer be paid by the military financing. He said the hackathon
> >would go on, financed by modest online donations of $50 or $100. He
> >noted that even while he was on the phone with a reporter, $65 in
> >donations had come in.
> >"We are free people, we are hobbyists," he said. "We do this for fun."
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