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Government Adds Consumer Databases To Mining Queries 179

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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  • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @04:52PM (#15543494)
    What is so frightening about the data that the NSA/FBI is gathering about U.S. citizens is that while they claim it will solely be used to look for terrorists today, next year they will be using it to look for drug dealers, then file-sharers, then political "radicals", etc.

    The Patriot Act was supposedly passed to help law enforcement in their fight against terrorism, but it didn't take long before it was being used in the "war on drugs". When the Patriot Act was renewed recently, they added a provision about methamphetamine.

    In Attorney General Gonzo's own words: Importantly, the legislation provides additional tools for protecting our mass transportation systems and seaports from attack; takes steps to combat the methamphetamine epidemic that is sweeping our country; and closes dangerous loopholes in our ability to prevent terrorist financing.

    It is scary how this was packaged up under the "terrorism-oogity-boogity-label". This may all seem a bit off-topic, but it demonstrates that the government is willing and able to lump other issues into the terrorism catch-all.
  • Cash (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @05:11PM (#15543717)
    Pay with cash. It hasn't been outlawed yet.
  • On the plus side... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @05:23PM (#15543873)
    Unlike things like the "do not fly" list(s) where you aren't (officially) allowed to know if your name is on the list or not -- at least if the information is commercially available you can buy it yourself and find out what big brother knows (and presumably doesn't know) about you.

    You can also use that info to judge the effectiveness of whatever disinformation you use to protect yourself. For example, a good friend of mine had a fake id made up with her real name. But it had a bogus age (younger than her real age, she is a woman after all), bogus address and bogus SS# (or maybe DL# I forget). She was tired of all the clubs that swipe the magstripe to "check id" when in fact they are "swiping" your personal information.

    This use had the unexpected side-effect of creating a completely bogus "identical twin" in a surprisingly large number of these commercial databases with the same name and same town, but otherwise completely different info. In some databases like the address lookups on yahoo and other places, her "twin" is the only entry - her real info isn't there. At the very least, this twin should confuse any stalkers (she's had a few before this development).

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.