Dark As A Dungeon, Down in the Data Mine

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Total Information Awareness died, but government data mining attempts live on, and the American Civil Liberties Union is peeved. From their press release this morning:

A new report on "data mining" by the General Accounting Office reveals at least four programs that may be accessing and analyzing private-sector databases in ways that approach the "data surveillance" of ordinary citizens, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.
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The GAO?s investigation uncovered 199 government uses of the statistical analysis techniques known as data mining, 54 of which use private-sector data. Such information could include any data held in corporate or other private hands, including credit-card records and Internet logs.
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The programs flagged by the ACLU were:

Verity K2 Enterprise—Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Mines data "to identify foreign terrorists or U.S. citizens connected to foreign terrorism activities." (Page 30 of GAO report)
Analyst Notebook I2—Department of Homeland Security. "Correlates events and people to specific information." (p. 44)
PATHFINDER—DIA. "Can compare and search multiple large databases quickly" and "analyze government and private sector databases." (p. 30)
Case Management Data Mart—DHS. "Assists in managing law enforcement cases" Using private-sector data. (p. 44)
According to the GAO descriptions, all four programs draw on private-sector databases, contain personally identifiable information, and appear to constitute dragnets on the general population in efforts to detect wrongdoing.

…..the GAO?s list did not include programs run by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, which did not respond to the GAO?s requests for information.

"Statistical analysis itself is of course not the problem," [Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program Barry] Steinhardt said. "It is the construction of systems that systematically aggregate information about the private activities of innocent individuals on a mass scale, and the computerized scrutiny of those activities for allegedly suspicious patterns that is at issue."

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