DARPA Says It Wants to Help Protect Your Online Privacy

Of the many organizations in the world that might attempt to improve online privacy, it's rather surprising to hear that DARPA, the Defense Department's research and development arm, is getting in on the fun. The agency has announced an effort to help everyday Internet users keep personal data to themselves, and even named the program after Louis Brandeis, a Supreme Court justice from early last century who was one of the earliest privacy advocates.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis, Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939. Courtesy of DARPA

"The goal of the Brandeis program is to break the tension between maintaining privacy and being able to tap into the huge value of data," explained program manager John Launchbury in a press release. "Rather than having to balance these public goods, Brandeis aims to build a third option, enabling safe and predictable sharing of data while reliably preserving privacy."

What exactly the agency intends to build, be it a piece of software, a new form of encryption or a legal framework for protecting the right to privacy, isn't exactly clear. It likely depends on what research proposals gain traction as the project progresses. NBC News contacted DARPA for more information on this point, but we have not heard back.

However strange it may seem to have the creators of BigDog and bionic soldiers working to enhance your privacy, it's better than the opposite. Brandeis is a four-and-a-half-year project, so expect to see updates all the way up to 2020.

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