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Florida joins U.S. government in probing foreign ties of researchers (sciencemag.org)
151 points by pseudolus 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 85 comments



All: if you comment in a thread like this, please take a moment to ensure that you're following the site guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). Note this one: "Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive." Otherwise it's too easy to end up with nationalistic (in this case) flamewars, which damage the container here and don't help anything.

Some good qualities for HN threads: curious, factual, neutral.

Some bad ones: indignant, denunciatory, flamey.


Most Thousand Talents Program recruits are Chinese nationals studying and working in the U.S. Some of them may have green card, but mostly are not U.S. citizens. This is not a patriotism issue.

The money is not just the directly reward from the Thousand Talents Program. Being a Thousand Talents Program recruit, you can easily become a professor and lab director in China. This gives you money and status.

I knew a physicist worked in a 100~150 rank state University as a research scientist for a decade, low pay, cannot find a tenure position. But he got in the Thousand Talents Program, so he left the U.S. and became a professor in a top 10 University in China.


According to [1] the Thousand Talents Program has one strand for Chinese scholars only, and a separate strand for foreigners only.

The people listed in this article, like Alan List and Thomas Sellers, don't seem to be Chinese nationals.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand_Talents_Program


Why can't US schools and companies offer those scientists competitive salaries and status, if their research is so important?


> if their research is so important

Because it is not. US tenure positions are already saturated with far more applicants than available positions. There are still a lot of top tier chinese professors at US universities. But, the US is skimming the cream of the cream of cream. Some inevitably fall through the cracks.

Also, US universities expect their profs to teach. I know for a fact, that grad school rejected professors for not having adequate English proficiency for teaching. These same people probably excel at teaching in Chinese back in China.

It is also a culture thing. Sometimes US universities want to recruit talent that fits in with their culture. Sometimes, bad culture matches for US universities, might just be good culture matches for Chinese universities.


I think the unfortunate truth is that US academia job market is already highly saturated.

Look, a professor may need 5 to 10 PhD students, but there won't be so many positions open when those students graduate. In the past physics and biology graduates will try to stay as postdoc or research assistant as long as possible. Or find a position in industry. Nevertheless, this is just not a sustainable model in the long run. Eventually it will come to a point where more and more of them will go back to their home country.


You read the old guys and they were in the opposite situation. I remember reading the intro to Goodman and Gilman's once; I think it was Gilman who noted he was the unfortunate who couldn't find a job in industry and had to take a job in academia. Grass is always greener.


For internationals, it is easier to get Visa and Green Card in academia.


there aren't enough positions. I work at a large internet company that employs literally thousands of PhD scientists (PhDs in fields like astronomy, bioinformatics). Many of them trained to be professors, then found that the market was full. They make more money and work less as data scientists/programmers/product managers/people managers, but without the level of satisfaction they might get from being a professor.

It is unclear whether having many more scientists would increase the rate of novel discoveries or of general useful information production in a country like the US. On the other hand, China intends to be a full member of the international scientific community and needs publications in prestiguous journals to get there.


Because their research is not important. If it were, academia would pay more, and have better working conditions. If it were, immigration to the US would be easier[1].

That everyone is wringing their hands over this issue today is quite telling. The people doing it aren't interested in advancing research - they are interested in using public money to make privately capitalizable discoveries.

If a single penny of public money was used in research, the results should be public. At that point, it doesn't matter whether or not that research ended up going to China.

[1] Yes, it's possible for researchers to immigrate to the US. But it's not exactly easy. It's a mountain of beurocracy, stress, legal fees, arbitrary restrictions on travel, and a big drain on your time. Combine that with all the other costs of permanently moving to another country, and you shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people opt not to do it.


I tend to agree that there is a lot of unimportant and largely unimpressive research going on. Just my anecdotal observation, but try picking a random mid tier university and check out the professors' websites to see what they are working on.


>Because their research is not important. If it were, academia would pay more, and have better working conditions.

This assumes academia cares for the research (as opposed for milking students, getting grants, and so on).


Does the person making your latte at Starbucks deeply care about making coffee, or about getting a paycheque on Thursday?

It's obviously the latter, yet cafes exist, and lattes get made.


(We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22034080)


*recruits


Thank you.


It is appalling that cancer research in particular is being hamstrung with such extreme mercenary motives as protecting IP


IP law has many problems, but one of the GOOD things it does it limit the risk of engaging in expensive research projects. If you find something, you get a monopoly on that discovery for X years.

If some country or company ignores your monopoly, then why should you make the discovery public? Why should you spend hard time and money researching something that you'll never see the profit from at all? That hurts everyone. IP law encourages research. And specifically, it encourages you making that research public in order to get a government monopoly on it.

Now, we could argue about nuances on how long such a monopoly should last, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find people willing to throw good money after bad in order to get someone else rich. Researchers would keep as much as possible as corporate secrets, and medical research would slow down significantly.


Protective IP on medical research probably means more investment is done in medical research.

The recognition of private property in intellectual endeavors necesarily means that more capital is invested in intellectual endeavors.

Personally I think that creating an artificial wall to make more people devote time to entertainment, or certain research, etc is pretty dumb and would be better not to exist at all.


the problem with capital is that is only motivated by potential profit


Capital has no intentions. People have intentions and they intend to use their owm savings the best way they can.


Nothing is stopping you from giving all of your capital away to cure cancer


but then it would not be capital anymore


I worked for a lab ran by a Chinese national at an Ivy when I was in graduate school. He would go on frequent trips to China touring major Chinese universities. He was something of a celebrity. He did not do this at US universities FWIW.

He had a pipeline and dedicated spots in our lab for Chinese graduate students who wanted to do a "postdoc" in the US. He was talking to one of his non-Chinese postdocs (with me present) who was considering taking a tenure-track faculty position at a university. He says, "You don't want to work there." She says, "Why do you say that?". He says, "The majority of students there are white. You won't get any quality students."

On another occasion, I was speaking with a S. Korean member of the lab who was well recognized at our university and in the field. He said to me, "When I first got here, I was bullied heavily. I was told: Koreans are stupid. Koreans are lazy. At least you're better than the white students."

This is all anecdote. But I personally saw that a lot of what we learned, discovered, developed, or otherwise worked on in our lab was taken on the road to share with Chinese Universities. I never once learned of something that was brought back to help us. I was told by a couple postdocs, actually, not to trust papers published by Chinese journals unless the same finding was corroborated by a non-mainland journal.

We did not share this kind of information very frequently or at that kind of volume with any other lab or university in the US. As a matter of fact, when I discovered a variation of a protocol that was much more effective and when I also had some preliminary findings on my own research and wanted to share this with another lab in the US that was doing similar work (to help them, and to learn from them - respectively). I was told I couldn't even tell them I was working on this because we didn't want them to beat us to publish.

Science is supposed to be about collaboration. It shouldn't know borders. But I have never seen such shady, unethical practice. When I raised concerns, I was told to keep my head down. I'm not in that field anymore... and it's always just a "Can you believe this happens..." story that I like to tell. But every time I see reports like this... I expect to read my old PI's name. Odd stuff.


This article is written from the standpoint that something is being lost, IP, to foreign governments. What I don’t see it saying is that something has been lost and/or stolen.

Science being funded across borders isn’t a bad thing. Collaboration leads to greater understanding and faster discoveries. The article doesn’t seem to mention any positives, only painting everything as shady back room dealings that need to be exposed. I’m curious if anyone in the science community has a more positive perspective than the one that’s being written about here? It seems to only mention China as the threat, but I see research is constantly shared with European universities. Will those also come under investigation?

Basically, are the issues brought up in the article actually bad things that we want to prevent? If these new policies are carried through, will we be better off or not?


>Science being funded across borders isn’t a bad thing

Collaboration is the key word here.

This isn't science being funded across borders, this is research being stolen, such that the work is quickly finished off in China and published before the researchers in the US do, the thief and China getting all the credit to themselves and a bunch of knowledge at no cost.

The difference with the EU is that it is mutual, consensual collaboration with both sides putting in work and funding.


> this is research being stolen

Well, I guess copied would be a better word, as the people who "had the research" still has it.

> quickly finished off in China and published before the researchers in the US do

Sounds like they are doing a better job than US researchers then? Unless of course, they do a sloppy job finishing it, but then US researchers can just take their time, do it properly and people would use their research instead. Free market of research basically, just have to make sure your research is actually better.


That's not how research works. The first paper published is the important one; all others are derivative, and must prove novelty or improvement anew. And even if you do, you must cite the first paper published, and that's the one with the prestige associated with the citation count, not yours, which might even be overlooked. Simply being "more robust" is unlikely to be sufficiently novel for acceptance into a journal or conference.


This "free market" is similar to JK Rowling asking me to proofread her new Harry Potter book that is 95% finished. I take it and "finish" the last 5% and then publish it as my own book.

I honestly cannot understand this viewpoint that stealing private information is not only cool, but a good thing to do. I literally hear it only on hackernews and no where else in my life.


Userbase here is generally young and idealistic, most probably don't know how research works and apparently can't tell the difference between mutual co-operation and state-sanctioned plagiarism.


>This article is written from the standpoint that something is being lost, IP, to foreign governments.

The target here is China. They alone are responsible for the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen (Trillions $$ in IP theft from western tax payers). There is a great book called "Future Wars-Mark Goodman" that details some of this theft of technology that the Chinese Gov and their agents have carried out not just from the US but Europe also.


Taking IP is not a "wealth transfer"; it's wealth copying. The productive capacity of the original holder of the IP/technology is not decreased by someone else also having it, although their revenue might be. This is different from if I go and steal your factory, which prevents you from producing whatever you were using the factory to produce. Intellectual property and property are qualitatively different, and many people argue that society would be better off without the former (see for instance the massive support for SciHub and movie piracy on HN).


If someone takes unpublished work for a paper, then uses all that unpublished as of yet work and publishes it, how is that "wealth copying". Its plagiarism as well as unethical, and it is indeed taking away the productive capacity of the person doing the original work.

Support for SciHub is orthogonal to this, these academic papers don't exist yet. So not even the Arxiv would make sense, its not even a preprint, its work in progress thats being co-opted and used for gain within China.

If you could explain how this state of affairs, aka upending the academic publishing model entirely by undermining the entire idea and using unpublished research for your own gain in another country, that would be a constructive way of addressing the issue at hand. As the issue at hand isn't directly economic, but it will affect economics at some point as money is involved.


"Taking IP is not a "wealth transfer"" But it is, because you didn't need to invest the capital to gain the IP. You just stole it. It's rather easy to make a much cheaper product if you didn't have any R&D expenses.


>The productive capacity of the original holder of the IP/technology is not decreased by someone else also having it, although their revenue might be.

This is the contradiction. A reduction in revenue directly translates to a reduction in productive capacity.


Which makes us go down the slippery slope of "if I'm going to the toilet on my employer's time it means I'm reducing its revenues". Which in turn brings us to the employees of the most wealthy men on this planet having to literally piss themselves on the job.


It doesn't make us go down that slippery slope. Those who slide down it are deliberately choosing to do so.


So it's ok to go on the slippery slope of seeing IP infringement as theft (at least I regard that as a slippery slope, and I'm not the only one), but going further down the slippery slope thingie is not ok. So the question becomes: who decides where we should stop the slipper slope-ness?


Society, collectively.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm saying "why, this is simple, obvious to even the most casual of observers" -- what I'm saying is more that this is in line with the kind of decisions societies and individuals have to make all the time about what is and isn't acceptable.

I'm a fiction author myself, and I'm not against giving my work away for free! But I don't think it's unreasonable for me to think I should be the one to make the decision whether or not to do so -- and that means that, at some level, I need control over the "intellectual property" of my fiction. I don't think that having my work digitally available means I somehow automatically forfeit the right to that control that I would have had thirty years ago when you pretty much would have had to buy a physical copy on paper. What readers are ostensibly paying for, after all -- or what I'm giving away, if I choose -- isn't the medium, it's the work expressed in that medium.

And, you know, there are nuances and arguments to be made around that. There's a lot of things about IP law as it exists now I disagree with. But seriously making the argument that we can't let a book publisher enforce their copyright against a pirate ebook site because to do so will inexorably lead us to the Triangle Shirt Fire -- I'm just saying, I think that's a pretty damn hard case to make.


>Taking IP is not a "wealth transfer"; it's wealth copying.

Try "wealth division", by the very act of more people having access to the rights the earnings from its exploitation are distributed.

If I own the patent to the screw, I make all the money from its sale and use. There isn't more money created if you steal it and sell the plans to a hundred thousand fabricators who compete for the same and further markets.


That's not true in the case of creating new markets either geographically or catering to clients who would not be in the market otherwise. If you as the rights holder don't, won't, or refuse to capitalize on those opportunities otherwise, it makes no difference to your bottom line - or might even increase it due to additional advertising by third parties/network effects. In that case (which exists to some extent or another in many common scenarios), it is wealth multiplication.


>That's not true in the case of creating new markets either geographically or catering to clients who would not be in the market otherwise.

This is such a thieve's attitude, "what good is money sitting in this rich man's house unused, when I can create opportunities for all who I would spend it on?"


No it's not, I am just talking about a reality without judging it. Regardless, this is not money but copying of information, with some similarities and some differences which we would all do well to recognize.


> China...alone are responsible for the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen (Trillions $$ in IP theft from western tax payers).

In terms of % of global GDP is it in fact greater than the transfer to the US of European technologies in the 18th and in particular 19th centuries (a famous IP theft being, for example, the spinning mill)? Or smuggled transplantation of crops between rival European empires (e.g. rubber from Brazil to to Malaya).

Not trying to defend or accuse anyone here; simply curious about the term "largest".


> The target here is China.

Welcome to the trade war.

> They alone are responsible for the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen (Trillions $$ in IP theft from western tax payers).

The largest transfer of wealth was either from china to europe/america ( opium wars ), colonialism in africa/india and the confiscation of land in the americas ( particularly the US ). If your assertion were true, china would be ruling the world and their economy would be bigger than US + EU combined. China's economy is only 1/3rd the size of US + EU while having 300 million more people. Not quite the largest of wealth transfers. Also, wealth transfers normally happen via war. Don't recall china winning a war recently.


I am under the understanding that the largest wealth transfer the world has ever seen was the various flavours of colonialism that have been practiced over the past few centuries. We are the beneficiaries of this sort of thing, and yet, we have forgotten all about it...

Incidentally, would you consider someone getting paid 1/10th what an American worker would need to get paid, to make a widget, to be wealth transfer? In which direction? To me, it seems to be a wealth transfer from the person employed in the sweatshop, to the west. [1] We have been enjoying the benefits of this sort of wealth transfer for the past four decades. I must say, hundreds of millions of people giving you their labour for next to nothing, for decades, dwarfs whatever impact IP has in, ah, transferring wealth.

[1] For some odd reason, a large number of modern politicians think that it is a wealth transfer in the other direction. I'm not sure they understand, or appreciate the fact that people on the other side of the world are willing to work for us, nearly for free.

Edit: Cleaned up the language.


You've got an important point here, but can you please not post it in the snarky flamewar style? It's against the site rules and degrades discussion. If you'd review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and take their spirit more to heart, we'd be grateful. Note this one:

"Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."

If you post that way, you'll evoke better from others, instead of worse.


Most European countries have been the US's strategic allies since at least WW2. China, meanwhile, is a strategic competitor to the United States. Why on earth would knowledge being shared with Europe have the same scrutiny applied?


The knowledge gets published and shared with everyone.


Not all knowledge gets published. In fact, the overwhelming majority of knowledge produced by these institutions - even ones whose goals are explicitly to publish - never sees publication.

This is in itself a problem that ought to be solved, but for the time being makes this argument void.


Sounds like we don't want to sell our education or knowledge to 'specific' groups we don't like at the moment, this list will be a ever evolving and changing landscape i'm sure:

"The success of the program in recruiting U.S.-trained scientists back to China has been viewed with concern from the U.S., with a June 2018 report from the National Intelligence Council declaring an underlying motivation of the program to be “to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of US technology, intellectual property and know-how” to China." [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thousand_Talents_Program


US universities have been offering generous scholarships and green cards to German PhDs for a long time, with the obvious goal of making their research available for US companies to use.

In fact, cherry-picking the worldwide top talent is one of the core aspects of silicon valley culture.

Why is it offensive that China is using the same approach as the US for building their own silicon valley equivalent?


What is the problem being solved?

Intellectual property concerns seem to be the issue at hand which definitely does not grok.

If the NIH is giving out money for research, the results of that research should be public, un-patented, free, to benefit the whole species, not Florida, not the US.

If there are concerns about training people with funds in the US who plan to leave, I get it. If there are concerns about sabotage, I get it. Otherwise, wtf?

There are many arguments, but no thesis. "China bad" isn't good enough.


One argument would be that China for some time has maintained the world’s largest biological weapons program which dwarfs anything the US and the Russians have even when combined.

In fact there is a rule of thumb from the Cold War...US - Nuclear, Soviets - Chemical, Chinese - Biological. Indeed most plagues have originated in China due to the population density and the prevalence of swine (there is a reason many religions don’t consume certain types of meat and in particular pork, it’s correlation with plague goes back thousands of years).

Besides these biological weapons which can be quickly looked up online at US Think Tanks and places like the Army War College...China has also maintained a pretty firm grip on HackerNews.

Twice now as a cybersecurity researcher I’ve come across Elasticsearch clusters employing Logstash in combination with a filebeat that streams in HackerNews topics and comments. This ingestion pipeline seems to be set off if you hit enough “hot words” after which time an Elastalert is sent out to presumably trigger human-in-the-loop to comment and pounce on any criticism. Based on the architecture that I saw in both cases this is a straightforward if not modest and not that sinister interpretation of the infrastructure. Yet it is still very concerning in the aggregate.

In conclusion, China could use these innovations for weapons to kill not as much us as their own people. Additionally their attempts to monitor and at times squelch free speech abroad goes against...a lot of things that people who live in Democracies would agree is valuable and worth protecting.


>In conclusion, China could use these innovations for weapons to kill not as much us as their own people. Additionally their attempts to monitor and at times squelch free speech abroad goes against...a lot of things that people who live in Democracies would agree is valuable and worth protecting.

Two assertions I can extract from this

* China would use medical research for nefarious uses

Ostensibly, all of this research would be public anyway. Whether or not Chinese agents were involved seems irrelevant. That information would be available to them either way.

* China would force it's own state-interest moral code in these organizations

Well, ok, possibly. Is this something people are really worried about with hiring researchers with Chinese ties? I suppose you could combat this with well formed organization policies, but it seems hard to justify strict reporting of certain ties to prevent this. It just seems like xenophobia if there isn't specific evidence.


The automated response pipeline I something I always assumed existed but couldn't prove. Is there a way you can anonymously publish info about this?


Lol my full name is in my profile. I published about the Wyze Breach, and a couple of other things, here: https://blog.12security.com

These posts were rapidly put up as I wrestled with the cloud hosted Ghost platform, so excuse the grammar mistakes.

Further posts on the topic you’re referring to, broad surveillance of the forums, comments, and chat rooms of the internet using streaming timeseries databases, I am working on now.


Wait, why free to the whole world? NIH is funded by US tax payers. Why should China benefit from our hard-earned wealth?


Do you propose we classify medical research and somehow let it benefit all US citizens but prevent it from ever being disclosed out of the country?


I don't fully understand what they did that is wrong? I strongly suspect this is a pharma grift to prevent new cancer treatments from being made available in China so they can profit off them dressed up as xenophobia and insinuation.

I guess if they are at a "shadow lab" and are not working their grants that's something, but lol at how often professors just take time off to do consulting for companies!


I'm affiliated with a university, and every year for the past 5+ years I have to fill out a conflict of interest (COI) form in which I testify that I haven't accepted gifts or compensation from outside entities without filing a disclosure form for that gift/compensation. I forget the exact dollar threshold, but it's like $100. Basically anything above a coffee mug or t-shirt.

The point of filing the disclosure is clear, if you give it some thought from the POV of the university.

For instance, suppose a professor is performing research for NIH. When the grant/contract application is filed, the university is promising NIH that X research will be performed at that university. There is an agreement between the university and NIH, and the university has the duty of monitoring funds and activity. (This is part of the rationale for the ~30-50% overhead charge that everyone also likes to argue about.) If it's a contract (opposed to a grant, both are given by NIH) there are also deliverables to NIH that are guaranteed by the university.

[Aside: above is pushing back against some people's notion that NSF/NIH grants/contracts are a mostly-unrestricted dollar award to a specific faculty member to do cool stuff; that may the the informal working-model especially for grants to long-time faculty but it's not the letter of the law]

For this reason, the university itself has a direct interest in making sure an investigator is not taking money from another source for the same (worst case!) or similar research/deliverables. This is why major universities now require COI disclosure for outside consulting, etc. -- basically anything where flows of external funds could affect the course of work that the university is supposed to monitor.

If you read the article with this in mind, it appears that the university discovered that these researchers had taken money from these outside entities without disclosure to the university. This is a big no-no, and it is indeed very surprising that the CEO of the entire cancer center would not have disclosed.

In some cases, the failure to disclose is the real issue, because it gives the appearance of "hiding something." Hope this helps!


Having a conflict of interest is a concern in many jobs. It's even more of a concern when that conflict is not disclosed, and the conflict is with a program that has a known history of incentivizing illegal behaviors.


Aren't strong foreign ties for researchers a good thing?

(shrugs)


McCarthyism is cool again.


[flagged]

smt88 8 months ago [flagged]

I assume this is being downvoted because of antiquated references to Nazi Germany and the USSR, but I think there's a valid point hiding under it:

China and Russia are authoritarian regimes actively attacking the US, controlling information for 2B+ people, and (in China's case) committing a hidden genocide.

What good is there in allowing those types of regimes to take credit for research that was mostly done in the US?

I'm not sure about Russia, but it's clear that at least some Chinese researchers are not collaborating in good faith. Why wouldn't we at least investigate?

Historically, the US was so strong in academic funding and freedom that we could bring the best researchers here as immigrants. I wish we could return to that status quo.


At what point are we going to stop with this Nationalism bullshit and realize that research, regardless of who pays for it, is good for all of mankind.


A good sentiment which doesnt work when bad faith actors take advantage of openness to capitalize on the race to profitable product by standing on (and not sharing with) the folks who struggle with and funded the enabling R&D. Free and Open Research is Knowledge as a Commons, and is just as vulnerable to bad faith actors as any other Tragedy of thr Commons.


When the national and global patent systems are reformed or eliminated.


As soon as we have removed all of the silly lines on the map.


I think the realization that research is better of without boundaries can be effectuated a whole lot earlier than removing all of the silly lines on the map. In fact it may well be a long time before removing the silly lines on the map is even a good idea.


Everytime I see someone mentioning no nations, fictitious as it is, it reminds me of https://acecombat.fandom.com/wiki/A_World_With_No_Boundaries which was branded as a terrorist group in the game. Don't think national boundaries will ever be erased without economic incentive and hardship in the process. How would you refer to each land?

As far as I can see there is always going to be boundaries be it cultural, tribal or artificial. Tendency is just there. Look at SF for instance where there was one neighborhood that rebranded itself (The East cut).


Nation-states are a fairly recent invention historically speaking, and their benefits are somewhat questionable - it's entirely possible that they simply don't provide more benefits than the price of administration.

Humans lived in city-states for most of our history, I see no reason why we shouldn't expect the city-state to be resurgent in the current century.


And this is exactly what software engineers and other high-impact people should aim to do eventually.


As soon as the Chinese stop with it too


Is this the result of a decreasing amount of patriotism across the US? Or maybe it's just money.


The Chinese "Thousand Talents" program listed in the article has one-time awards of up to $150k USD.


That’s not a lot money..I’m pretty sure many researchers that qualifies that program could get a 200-400k or much more sign-on package from major tech company. The Chinese program might come with much more benefit and privileges though that couldn’t be measured by money


I think the downvotes are because it's 150k one time stipend for R&D, i.e. a grant for research. Salaries may be separate.


It's because it actually is a lot of money for academia. The "make 200k-400k signing bonus at a tech firm" is approximately the same as "just have the truck drivers join FAANG for a 50k signing bonus" - as in, there aren't that many positions that pay that well, there's a ton of competition for them, there isn't enough for everybody, so the vast majority of people are going to take this option for a variety of reasons.


Does anyone here have any idea what https://usaviationacademy.com is? A 7,000 foot runway, they also own a total of 3 airports in central Texas...with dozens of planes, 10 helicopters, and multiple private jets? All owned by about 7 different business names it looks like and 7 different non-working numbers? Apparently they teach...air to air refueling. Lol sure that is standard pilot training for Delta.

They also conveniently left open an Elasticsearch cluster with 600,000 US Air Force personnel PII records.

Yesterday it was posted about front companies acquiring massive resources in the US. Who are these people?

http://40.113.239.204:9200/airmen/_search?size=100&pretty


Those aren't USAF records. They're FAA (civilian) pilot records. I think that info is all scraped public record - see https://amsrvs.registry.faa.gov/airmeninquiry/

If you want help getting media attention on the breach to try to get it shamed into being closed, I'd suggest reaching out to Troy Hunt (HIBP?) or Brian Krebs.


Fascinating and thank you. Airmen is a uniquely military term, and entering into Wikipedia immediately brings up an article on Air Force ranks. It is interesting 1). That the FAA uses this term as well and 1). There seems to be an entry input for country. I guess that’s for foreign pilots? Or for US citizens who move abroad?


Don't click that... it's a lot of useful PII on an elasticsearch cluster.


.... Didn't expect a random data dump


So I guess the next question is who's gonna contact them and tell them about it.




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