KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n19 : item24 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


U.S. data mining riles Latin America

By HUGH DELLIOS -- Chicago Tribune -- Posted on Sun, Oct. 12, 2003.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua - For a people who have grappled with American meddling for more than a century, Nicaraguans were surprised to find that Uncle Sam's long reach may now extend right into their private lives.

The latest intrusion was by information companies rooting out identity documents, driver's license numbers, phone records and other personal data, all of which were made available to the U.S. government for screening.

Prosecutors in Nicaragua, Mexico and elsewhere across Latin America have opened investigations into the business of private information mining after discovering that the U.S. Justice Department hired a Georgia company to collect personal information on up to 300 million people throughout the region without their knowledge.

The company, ChoicePoint Inc., in turn hired local subcontractors to dig out the information. Company officials said they only collect data from the public realm and never deal in sensitive information such as bank records. But investigators across the region want to know who is collecting what information and how it might be used.

The project is part of the U.S. government's attempt to expand its intelligence sources in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. U.S. officials say the data are being used by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to verify the identities of foreign-born criminal suspects, illegal immigrants and suspected terrorists.

See http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/6997061.htm

KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n19 : item24 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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