DHS posting anti-immigrant comments?

The NYTimes ran a story yesterday accusing the Department of Homeland Security of posting anti-immigrant comments on the Wayne County Star’s website.

The basis for the accusation is

in reviewing the logs of its Internet server, the paper, The Wayne County Star in Wolcott, traced three of them to Internet protocol addresses at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border protection.

The problem here is that attribution online is so incredibly difficult.  It is possible to spoof these characteristics (typically IP addresses).  This could just as easily be a DHS frame-up as it could be a DHS plot.

According to the article, DHS has

started an investigation into the posts this month, according to the reporter, Louise Hoffman-Broach, and Richard M. Healy, the Wayne County district attorney. A spokeswoman for the federal agency’s inspector general said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation; department rules prohibit the use of office equipment for the personal transmission of material that could offend fellow employees or the public.

I, for one, suspect that the results of the investigation will not be disclosed, regardless of their findings.

Some may use this to argue for a standardized form of attribution or online identification (and ID card, a “license,” or anything else) – but this would kill the Internet as we know it.  If we want to increase the flow of information, leave the internet “anonymous,” and figure out how to deal with the relatively small problems that this can present.


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