NSA using data mining for intelligence gathering
| 02.26.2006 | 13:25:05 | Views: 2292 | ID:
February 27: The National Security Agency has been working on ways to use new technologies to help gather information much in the same way marketing companies have amalgamated personal information about their customers' habits using data mining, the New York Times reported over the weekend.
"Supercomputer companies looking for commercial markets have used the practice for decades. Now intelligence agencies, hardly newcomers to data mining, are using new technologies to take the practice to another level," the Times wrote.Privacy concerns are being voiced because in order for the agency to gather the information, it must "turn loose software sentinels to examine all digital behavior whether it is innocent or not," and that the "intelligence agency systems take such techniques further, applying software analysis tools now routinely used by law enforcement agencies to identify criminal activities and political terrorist organization that would otherwise be missed by human eavesdroppers," the Times continued. And recently, the Christian Science Monitor reported that a previously killed bill in Congress in 2003 called the Total Information Awareness project has been moved into the NSA and is being funded under a different name. "It now appears," the Monitor wrote, "however, that the controversial program, which was first brought to the public's attention in 2002, is continuing. ... The National Journal reported Thursday that TIA 'was stopped in name only' and has been continued within the National Security Agency." Under the TIA, the government "developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States ... [and] was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily," for the NSA, the Journal reported. Some of the mining activities by the government, the Times reported, have helped lead to the arrests of pornographers and drug smuggling rings in jails. And in September 2005, "the NSA was granted a patent for a technique that could be used to determine the physical location of an internet address - another potential category of data to be mined. The technique," the Times reported, "which exploits the tiny times delays in the transmission of internet data, suggests the agency's interest in sophisticated surveillance tasks like trying to determine where a message sent from an internet address in a cybercafe might have originated."
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