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Government Adds Consumer Databases To Mining Queries 179

Posted by Zonk
from the next-up-grammar-school-records dept.
mrraven writes "According to an article in the Washington Post the government is increasingly using consumer databases for surveillance purposes. " From the article: "It is difficult to pinpoint the number of such contracts because many of them are classified, experts said. At the federal level, 52 government agencies had launched, or planned to begin, at least 199 data-mining projects as far back as 2004, according to a Government Accountability Office study."
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Government Adds Consumer Databases To Mining Queries

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  • Propaganda and You (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @05:07PM (#15543663)
    Why is it when Google offers free, slightly better webmail you rush to them with handfuls of your personal data and when the government offers sweeping improvements in security you defend the collection of relatively meaningless data points that you call a life like a snarling wolverine? The government isn't sending me spam, let them mine whatever they want. They can tap my phone, too, if they want. I don't care if some algorithm somewhere is analyzing my terror potential, because believe it or not, I have nothing to worry about. That's exactly the kind of government I *want* - where good, decent, respect-your-neighbor folks are free to exude personal data and the slimeball terrorists have to guard their every dirty step, living in fear themselves. I want the government to analyze my and everyone else's actions, because I know I'll come out clean. It's the neighbor everyone thought was "such a nice, quiet man" but is actually check out my asscheeks in the shower that I want to Federal Bureau of Douchebags to swoop in and ship away.
  • by golodh (893453) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @05:30PM (#15543948)
    Remember that admiral Poindexter with his Total Information Awareness (TIA) programme? It looks as if his ideas have been implemented from the first to the last. Links: http://www.p2pnet.net/issue03/page1.html [p2pnet.net] and http://www.p2pnet.net/issue05/page1.html [p2pnet.net]
  • by General Fault (689426) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @07:01PM (#15544772)
    I dont care about you either. Try and think outside your simple boring "I don't do anything that everybody else doesn't do life". I really care about myself. I also care about other decent people that do "abnormal" but perfectly legal things.
    For example; in the last month, while researching stuff for a current (harmless) project, doing my day job, and doing some political reading, I have visited sites containing information about:
    The Koran (wanted to read it for myself),
    Turbine engines,
    GPS systems,
    video and data transmission over RF,
    Automated navigation systems,
    US and other countries electrical generation and distribution,
    Millitary tech manuals for various bits of old equipment and aircraft,
    Ideal Gas laws (heat and expansion, often usefull info for bombs),
    energy densities of batteries, fuels, hydrogen, etc.,
    Bush,
    Rove,
    Right wing philosophy,
    Left wing philosophy,
    North Korea,
    Iran,
    9/11 consperacy theories,
    slashdot,
    and a whole bunch of other "abnormal" stuff.

    Now I am certainly no terrorist (just a hobbiest), but do I watch what I say on the phone these days? Of course I do. I already have enough flagged searches out there to probably qualify me for my very own NSA agent. If I have to watch what I say on the phone, or even if I feel like I should watch what I say on the phone even though I talking about perfectly legal things, I would call that a BAD thing.
    And what exactly do I do if some ass at the NSA decides that Ive searched for or purchased the wrong legal things and I silently get swept off to Guitanimo? Without a trial and some oversight, how do I prove that I did nothing wrong? Who is there to look over the shoulder of the NSA and verify that I am or am not a threat?
  • Re:Uh Oh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by demachina (71715) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:17PM (#15545620)
    It would be possible to use this kind of mining to catch someone buying a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, some plastic barrels, and diesel fuel. You might catch an Al Qaeda terrorist or a Tim McVeigh preparing a very large bomb, or you might net about a million farmers. Presumably your data mining would use other information sources to narrow the focus to Arab Muslims who are either terrorists or farmers. Of course when you do that you would let all the Tim McVeigh's out of your net. Maybe you can factor in Ryder truck rentals to get them back in the net, so the query is:

    Ammonium Nitrate && barrels && diesel && (Arab Muslim || Ryder truck rental)

    I don't know about anyone else, but I would really prefer the government stop spying on all Americans in a mostly futile effort to catch a relatively small number of Muslim extremists. I would prefer the government had focused on dismantling Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, since they were actually responsible for 9/11 and are still mostly not held to account. I would have preferred they hadn't gone off on a tangent and off the deep end in Iraq and in spying in the U.S. For example it is insane to make everyone take off their shoes in airports, from now on, because one guy put some explosives in his shoes once and it didn't even work. People on airplanes will freak if they see someone try to light their shows now so I'm not very worried about this vector of attack. It was insane to create a concentration camp in Gitmo, and it is really insane to snatch up innocent people with Rendition, endorse the use of torture, and dismantle due process all of which have permanently tarnished the U.S. in the eyes of the world and made many Americans ashamed.

    I can probably live with the FBI focusing some attention on Arab Muslim men who are in this country on visa's of one and if they are doing things that are suspicious, get a FISA warrant and spy the hell out of them. FISA warrants are almost never denied and at least there would be some restraint on the spying. All the spying that is going on has NO restraints on it, and is ripe for and probably is being abused.

    Sure its possible another 9/11 plot slips through the cracks, but its a smaller price to pay than the one we are paying by turning the U.S. in to a police state, reviled by the rest of the world, and that is what we are getting. Even worse we are getting a police state that can make extensive use of computers and networks to create a police state that is more all knowing and all seeing than any in history. And it is a police state with nukes, lots and lots of nukes, and the most powerful military in world history(though it still can't control the streets of Baghdad).

    A new 9/11 plot might kill some people but the war in Iraq has killed far more people than 9/11 did and in a year or so it will have killed more Americans than 9/11 did, having passed the 2500 mark this week. A new 9/11 plot might cause a lot of economic damage like the first, but the war in Iraq is heading towards the half trillion dollar mark, we are spending more there every month than we spent during the height of Vietnam(adjusted for inflation) and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. American should have whacked Al Qaeda after 9/11, and then laughed in their face and said we aren't going to play your game, we are going to be an even better and freer country than before and do some things that would make a real difference in the world, and in the eyes of Muslims, like resolve the mess in Israel.

    All I'm saying is:

    Dear Government, Please stop being insane, Please stop spying on me, Please stop wasting all my tax dollars and borrowing my country in to a hole it will never get out of. Please stop making the rest of the world completely hate America and Americans. I like the rest of the world and I would like them to like me. The fewer people who hate America, the fewer people there are who will want to blow it up. Please FBI keep an eye on Ara

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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