Director of National Intelligence:
No Data Mining in 2012

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which includes CIA, says it did not engage in any data mining activity in 2012, while CIA CTO said recently their mission is "To Collect Everything And Hang On To It Forever". We examine the contradiction.



The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) ODNI2012 Data Mining Report covers activities from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2012 and was released on Apr 9, 2012 (4 months earlier than 2011 report, which was released in August 2012).

It was easy to do the report earlier, since the entire report is essentially contained in one sentence:

The ODNI did not engage in any activities to use or develop data mining functionality during the reporting period.

How come CIA CTO Gus Hunt said at GigaOM's Structure:Data conference (March 20-21, 2013, New York, NY)

"We try to collect everything and hang on to it forever"

Technically, he is correct, because the The Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 defines "data mining" as

"... a program involving pattern-based queries, searches or other analyses electronic databases, where
(A) a government agent is conducting the searches to discover or locate a predictive pattern or anomaly indicative of terrorist or criminal activity
(B) the queries, searches, or other analyses are not subject-based and do not use personal identifiers of a specific individual, or inputs associated with a specific individual or group of individuals, to retrieve information from the database or databases

Thus, queries that start with a "specific individual" are not covered, even if such queries can lead to essentially the same types of predictive patterns.

The report also mentiones the following research programs by IARPA, which is not part of ODNI:

  • Knowledge Discovery and Dissemination (KDD) Program
  • Automated Low-level Analysis and Description of Diverse Intelligence Video (ALADDIN Video)
  • Security and Privacy Assurance (SPAR) Program

Here is the full (and not very interesting report) ODNI 2012 Data Mining Report

See also CIA claims no electronic data mining thanks to legal loophole (RT, Apr 10, 2013).

Here is a summary of 2011 US Government ODNI Data Mining Report, where ODNI also said that it did not engage in data mining activities, but listed a few more related programs.