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Government Increasingly Turning to Data Mining

Peek Into Private Lives May Help in Hunt for Terrorists

By Arshad Mohammed and Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 15, 2006; Page D03

The Pentagon pays a private company to compile data on teenagers it can recruit to the military. The Homeland Security Department buys consumer information to help screen people at borders and detect immigration fraud.

As federal agencies delve into the vast commercial market for consumer information, such as buying habits and financial records, they are tapping into data that would be difficult for the government to accumulate but that has become a booming business for private companies.


The Education Department's Project Strikeback uses mining methods to compare its databases with the FBI and verify identities. The Defense Department's Verity K2 Enterprise program searches data from the intelligence community and Internet searches to identify foreign terrorists or U.S. citizens connected to terrorists. A Navy program analyzes data to try to predict where it might find small weapons of mass destruction and narcotics smuggling in the shipping industry.

Security vs. Privacy

Even critics say data mining can be effective in targeted circumstances, such as gathering information about known suspects. But the government's wide interest in the technology disturbs privacy advocates, who say the vast commercial data industry provides a ready-made window into private lives that the government would be unable to legally assemble on its own. ...

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KDnuggets : News : 2006 : n12 : item22 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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