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Latest Revelations on the FBI's Data Mining of America

samzenpus posted about 7 years ago | from the just-forward-your-mail-to-homeland-security dept.

Privacy 446

An anonymous reader writes "You probably already knew that the FBI was data mining Americans in the "search" for potential terrorists, but did you know that they're also supposed to be looking for people in the U.S. engaged in criminal activity that is not really supposed to be the province of the federal government? Now the feds are alleged to be data mining for insurance fraudsters, identity thieves, and questionable online pharmacists. That's what they're telling us now. What else could they be looking for that they are not telling us about?"

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446 comments

Among other things? (4, Insightful)

bladesjester (774793) | about 7 years ago | (#19834117)

People comiting "moral crimes".

They have a history of blackmail using that sort of thing.

Re:Among other things? (3, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | about 7 years ago | (#19834141)

After the J Edgar Hoover bit, the FBI is in no position to blackmail anyone.

Call me when they find Osama. Or all those "lost billions" in government funds.

Re:Among other things? (3, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | about 7 years ago | (#19834189)



After the J Edgar Hoover bit, the FBI is in no position to blackmail anyone.

Call me when they find Osama. Or all those "lost billions" in government funds.


Actually, it's the CIA that is tasked with finding Osama. Well, unless Osama is somewhere in the US and commits a crime that crosses state lines or something.

That's Pre-Homeland Security (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#19834277)

Actually, it's the CIA that is tasked with finding Osama. Well, unless Osama is somewhere in the US and commits a crime that crosses state lines or something.

That was true before 9/11. Now, the CIA and FBI are allowed to collaborate.. in fact, anyone in the DHS is allowed to share information, because they are all one big happy Gestapo now.

Re:That's Pre-Homeland Security (1)

trippeh (1097403) | about 7 years ago | (#19834805)

I'm still waiting for a visit from the blacksuits, after one of my ridiculously worded emails melts one of their mail filters. It's not that I don't trust my noisemaker, it's that I don't trust the ability of the powers that be to recognise and dismiss my Internet Noizer traffic as chatter, rather than as a deep threat to security.

FIRST: realize that the F.B.I. is INEPT,then whine (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834843)


FIRST: realize that the F.B.I. is INEPT, then whine all you want. The more data collected, the more it buries the whole lot. Do you really think TBs upon TBs of raw data is somehow magically processed and folded into a nice, neat folder on you? Get real! It's like throwing a 1000s fish in a pond and letting a bunch of urbanites loose to catch their dinner. They look awfully funny trying, and by-golly, sometimes get lucky! The poor fish, you say. BFD! You are much, MUCH more likely to be killed by the likes of a Paris Hilton than some Waco-notched, cowboy federales.

Re:Among other things? (4, Insightful)

bladesjester (774793) | about 7 years ago | (#19834271)

After the J Edgar Hoover bit, the FBI is in no position to blackmail anyone.

No, that would just stop them from acting as publicly. Even if they didn't act directly, they could still do so through an intermediary.

That would also give them plausible deniability. "We at the Bureau are saddened and angered by the actions of this [rouge angent|hacker|whatever]"

Never kid yourself that they wouldn't sink to it again if they thought it would work in their favor.

Re:Among other things? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#19834695)

Osama and Saddam are both relaxing and catching some rays at the Majestic Hotel [beachbulgaria.com] (guests on the show stay at the beautiful Majestic Hotel. A full service resort with easy access to the beach. Come stay at the beautiful Majestic Hotel) on the Black Sea.

this is news? (3, Insightful)

farkus888 (1103903) | about 7 years ago | (#19834127)

I've been assuming that since before they admitted they were using it to look for terrorist.

Re:this is news? (1)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#19834155)

I've been assuming that
ah, well, no wonder it's true.

I can see a use for this. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 7 years ago | (#19834187)

Okay, so the FBI collects a WHOLE BUNCH OF INFORMATION about criminals.

If they're able to form a behaviour pattern from that and provide it to the state law enforcement agencies the I say that it would be okay.

As long as the FBI removed any individual identifying info (names, aliases, addresses, etc). Even in their database.

"Each of these initiatives is extremely valuable for investigators, allowing them to analyze and process lawfully acquired information more effectively in order to detect potential criminal activity and focus resources appropriately," Boyd said in a statement.

Fuck you, Boyd. What is "lawfully acquired" varies with the laws passed. When a private person does it, we often refer to that as "stalking" and it is illegal.

Re:I can see a use for this. (2, Insightful)

DrkShadow (72055) | about 7 years ago | (#19834665)

Okay, so the FBI collects a WHOLE BUNCH OF INFORMATION about criminals.


You're a criminal now, huh? .. well, I suppose I don't care so much about that, but it rather bothers me that you're calling _me_ a criminal.

-DrkShadow

Re:I can see a use for this. (1)

dom1234 (695331) | about 7 years ago | (#19834685)

If they're able to form a behaviour pattern

This assumes there are more chances that if someone has a different behavior to the majority's, then he is an undesirable person. This damages diversity by encouraging homogeneity.

Re:I can see a use for this. (1)

ZachMG (1122511) | about 7 years ago | (#19834727)

Okay, so the FBI collects a WHOLE BUNCH OF INFORMATION about criminals.

is this information collected from the people that might be criminals(how do they know who is a criminal) what pr0n sites we are visiting, are they making money selling this to other sources, who will ever know?

Re:I can see a use for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834871)

> is this information collected from the people that might be criminals(how do they know who is a criminal) what pr0n sites we are visiting, are they making money selling this to other sources, who will ever know?

I wonder how much MAFIAA would pay for access to the complete logs of every American's P2P traffic that was protected against MediaDefender netblocks and/or foreign netblocks? Or just the senetuay (you don't talk about snetuay!) traffic of every major snetuay server on the planet?

After, of course, the Feebs had scrubbed said logs of all .gov IP blocks and of any IP address associated with any politician or Congressional staffer's family.

CAPTCHA: "Venture". Indeed. A most profitable one.

Re:this is news? (3, Interesting)

bdjacobson (1094909) | about 7 years ago | (#19834719)

I've been assuming that since before they admitted they were using it to look for terrorist.
Right. It's just unfortunate all the places they're mining now. Ride public transit? In Atlanta, MARTA has just recently transitioned to RFID cards that you scan to let you in. The gates have IR sensors that know when you're standing there. Up until just recently you walked up to it and it would let you out. Now you have to scan your card again to get out as well. So they're (and by they're I mean at least Atlanta City Gov, perhaps passing on to FBI/Feds) mining my traveling habits (I ride MARTA daily so I don't like this).

What good would this information do them? Not much. I'm not sure what they could use it for. At least you don't have to scan your card to exit the bus when you get off. So they only ultimately know which lines are being used the most. I supposed they could use this to improve service. I've spoken with several employees and they say they're not keeping the data...right...of course they're not...

As usual, there's no possibilities for abuse in the near future, but they're still doing it, which makes you question what they've thought of that you haven't.

Leakers! (5, Interesting)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 7 years ago | (#19834157)

What else could they be looking for that they are not telling us about?

They're looking for 'leakers' who spread misinformation through government documents. Once they identify which government official's cell phone was in the same vicinity as the reporter who published the leaks they're gonna smack the leaker down.

Oh. They're also digging up dirt to discredit the leakers.

Re:Leakers! (2, Insightful)

Gilatrout (694977) | about 7 years ago | (#19834179)

Except when the leakers is thier boss in the White House, then they work to discredit and intimidate the whistle blowers.

What else are they tracking, you ask? (5, Funny)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | about 7 years ago | (#19834159)

The amount of porn everybody watches online. In thirty or so years when today's youth starts running for government office, mudslinging campaigns based on this knowledge (which by then will be hilariously declassified!) will be hugely entertaining and embarrassing for everyone involved.

I think I've discovered the terrible future of reality TV.

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (5, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#19834437)

This is why it's critically important to lower the signal-to-noise ratio, by sending filthy pornography to everyone you know.

Do it for America.

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834643)

That's why I get my porn directly from the KGB, silly.

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (4, Insightful)

superdude72 (322167) | about 7 years ago | (#19834753)

I know you're kidding, but prior to 9/11 the Justice Dept. did seem to be transforming itself into a federal vice squad, wiretapping a brothel in New Orleans and cracking down on medical marijuana clubs in California--clubs that state voters and local law enforcement approved. Their emphasis on "moral" crimes was unprecedented. I have no doubt medical marijuana clubs were a higher priority for the senior leadership than counterterrorism. In their minds, those dirty marijuana-toking, pornography-loving hippies *are* "the terrorists."

There is very little that you could say about this administration that I would find too insane to be plausible.

More on Ashcroft's Justice Dept. here. [findarticles.com]

And from recent testimony re: the NSA wiretapping it appears that Ashcroft was actually *less* disrespectful of the Constitution and rule of law than Gonzalez.

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (4, Funny)

superdude72 (322167) | about 7 years ago | (#19834787)

PS,
If this were fark.com I'd be posting an image macro: "Ceiling Ashcroft... is watching you masturbate"

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834857)

Jeebus, there's enough cliches on /. already without bringing kitten pics into play...

Re:What else are they tracking, you ask? (1)

buswolley (591500) | about 7 years ago | (#19834801)

I don't think he is kidding, and it is probably gonna happen big time.

Political Blackmail (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 7 years ago | (#19834169)

Is there anyone who doubts that Karl Rove has the wiretaps indexed for the most effective political control of both his Republican "friends" and Democratic enemies? I'm sure Rove knows who you are.

Re:Political Blackmail (0)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | about 7 years ago | (#19834411)

My mod points just expired or I would fix that stupid 'Flamebait' mod. Instead, I'll just post my agreement with your sentiment.

Re:Political Blackmail (1, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#19834969)

Just because Rove was smart enough to get the republican base out during the last few elections does not mean he holds the key to America. Your suggestion of such makes about as much sense as those that claimed Clinton was flying in cocaine as a governor, that Bush masterminded 9/11, or that Al Gore egged on the Oklahoma city bombers to hide the alien autopsy.

Tinfoil goes on your head, not up your ass.

don't trust the governmetn (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#19834195)

There's never been a power given to a federal agency that its members haven't immediately sought to abuse. But the same goes for state, local, federal government of all stripes, insurance agencies, organized religions, etc. It's human nature. Power will be abused so it's just common sense to restrict it as much as possible.

When the FBI honchos go wringing their hands and lamenting over all the crimes they could have prevented if only they had more powers, the first question should be "why aren't you able to do your job with the resources you have?" Throw more money and more powers at the problem and you'll just get the same song and dance during the next budget hearing.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (3, Insightful)

Evilest Doer (969227) | about 7 years ago | (#19834397)

It's human nature.
Actually, I don't think it is human nature. It's just the nature of the sort of people who seek offices of power. Those who seek power are almost always people who desire to control others. There are many (such as myself) who don't wish to control others, but simply want to be able to reasonably run their own lives and let others run theirs.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | about 7 years ago | (#19834433)

Actually, I don t think it is human nature. It's just the nature of the sort of people who seek offices of power. Those who seek power are almost always people who desire to control others. There are many such as myself who don t wish to control others, but simply want to be able to reasonably run their own lives and let others run theirs.


While I agree, the distinction is somewhat academic. It's a behavior to be completely anticipated from those who occupy those positions, and so is reasonable to restrict that power as much as possible.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834523)

From the immortal writings of Douglas Adams:

The major problem -- one of the major problems, for there are several - one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capible of getting themselves made [insert office here (the original uses "President")] should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize that summary, people are the problem.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (4, Insightful)

leereyno (32197) | about 7 years ago | (#19834571)

An even more important question is "Can you prove that the crimes you're seeking to prevent are actually WORSE than the crimes that will be committed BY YOU with these new powers?"

The most dangerous of all criminals are those who carry badges and whose chief weapons are the power and authority of the state.

Or demand transparency, checks and balances (3, Insightful)

Tancred (3904) | about 7 years ago | (#19834599)

One reaction to abuse of governmental power is to restrict it as much as possible. The other is to have transparency in government and checks and balances. The secrecy of the current administration is a dangerous precedent, even if you agree with their policies. They should be working for us and shouldn't be able to hide so much of their work. Thankfully we have things like the FOIA and the Sunlight Foundation. Checks and balances are part of the foundation of our system of government. Again, the current administration's "unitary executive" theory is a dangerous precedent.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (1)

KORfan (524397) | about 7 years ago | (#19834849)

How has anyone abused weather predictions or census data? I'm with you that there's a lot of abuse of government power, but you're saying "Everything."

Re:don't trust the governmetn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834899)

Indeed, this is sick.

When government fails, it throws more money at the problem.

In real life, you'd fire the ass that can't solve your problem for the money you paid. Or you'd go looking for an *alternative provider*, not give the original one even *more* money to waste. So: let's get some fair competition into this whole law enforcement thing! Give those suckers a run for their money.

Well, duh! (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 years ago | (#19834203)

Did anybody really think they wouldn't find a "use" for all the data they've been collecting?

Every single head-of-department has had his eye on it since day one.

Echelon (4, Insightful)

mrshowtime (562809) | about 7 years ago | (#19834205)

Pardon my conspiracy theory, but hasn't the government been spying on us, well, forever? Sure, legally it's a faux pas, but an "Echelon" type system must exist by now if it has not been with us since the dawn of the computer age. I say privacy is pretty much a thing of the past. Everyone wants everything NOW and WIRELESS. Pretty much in the next 10 years just about everything will be wireless. This means that a conversations/data will be able to be plucked out of the air by just about anyone (as is being done now.)

Re:Echelon (0, Offtopic)

Deadstick (535032) | about 7 years ago | (#19834425)

legally it's a faux pas

Grammatically, that is a faux pas.

rj

Re:Echelon (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834995)

> Pardon my conspiracy theory, but hasn't the government been spying on us, well, forever? Sure, legally it's a faux pas, but an "Echelon" type system must exist by now if it has not been with us since the dawn of the computer age. I say privacy is pretty much a thing of the past. Everyone wants everything NOW and WIRELESS. Pretty much in the next 10 years just about everything will be wireless. This means that a conversations/data will be able to be plucked out of the air by just about anyone (as is being done now.)

You fail to understand the difference between spies (NSA, CIA) and cops (FBI).

Spies: Your nation's spies are paid by the number of bad guys they neutralize (kill, imprison, discredit, or blow cover on). That means that they have a second job: to ignore everything else they see. Corollary: Unless you're actually working for the bad guys, your spies are paid to ignore you. Your nation's spies really are the good guys. They're paid to ignore things so that they can come down like a motherfucking hammer on other things.

Cops: Your local cops are paid by the number of guys they turn over to your DA for prosecution, and your DA's paid by the number of people he can convict. Your DA is an attorney; he has no loyalty except to his own political career. Corollary: your cops don't really have the option of having a second job; they're paid to ignore nothing, and to come down hard on anything that moves.

For cops, no crime is too small. For spies, not so much. And that's why I trust spies more than cops.

As a kid who was brought up with the notion that "a policeman is someone you can always trust", that's the second-saddest fucking thing I've ever written. The saddest thing is that as an adult... it isn't that I've been lucky enough to have never encountered a bad cop (because I have been lucky -- I've never met a bad cop -- every cop I've encountered has been both polite and professional)... but it's that I think my experience has been lucky.

What's that? (0)

TodMinuit (1026042) | about 7 years ago | (#19834215)

The FBI is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!

Re:What's that? (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 7 years ago | (#19834299)

The FBI is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!
The FBI^W Roman Legion is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!
The FBI^W Gestapo is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!
The FBI^W KGB is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!
The FBI^W CIA is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!
The FBI^W FBI is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!

There, fixed that for you, asshole.
The law is what "Big Brother" says it is. Try to pay attention, will you??

Re:What's that? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834635)

I totally wanna join the FBI.

This IS their job. (2, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | about 7 years ago | (#19834639)

This is the FBI, not the NSA or CIA.

WTF do you think we pay the FBI to do? Sit on their asses?

Maybe you think we should disband the FBI? Maybe the state police, county sherifs, and city cops too?

Sorry, anarchy doesn't work so well. Anarchy is a vaccuum that will get filled by something, and that "something" might be a whole lot less to your liking.

Re:This IS their job. (3, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | about 7 years ago | (#19834955)

WTF do you think we pay the FBI to do?

It was my understanding that we pay the FBI to investigate crimes.

I'm not a criminal, nor have any crimes been committed against me, so it seems odd that the FBI would trample my privacy and waste resources mining through my online activity/phone calls/whatever.

If the FBI wants to investigate criminals, fucking wonderful. But they should leave the rest of us alone.

Re:What's that? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#19834729)

The law is what "Big Brother" says it is. Try to pay attention, will you??

I was online chatting and said something like "Let's blow W3C up, and put WHATWG in their place" or something like that. One of the guys was seriously freaked out that I'm now on "someone's" list because of what I said.

What has become of this world?

Re:What's that? (4, Insightful)

bmgoau (801508) | about 7 years ago | (#19834749)

And by "big brother" you mean the local government representative YOU elected for your area to vote on issue like this for you.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for the way our governments act.

Re:What's that? (2, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#19834953)

And by "big brother" you mean the local government representative YOU elected for your area to vote on issue like this for you. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the way our governments act.

You mean I unilaterally choose my government officials? Neato!

Oh, you mean I get 6.7e-7% (yes, both the e-7 and % were intentional) of a say I get because I live in a country where my decision is diluted by every dolt who thinks the most important issue is gay marriage/WMD in Iraq (to cover two popular but opposing side's rallying cries)? I blame a collection of idiots, either the leaders themselves or my fellow citizens who are outvoting me.

Re:What's that? (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | about 7 years ago | (#19834475)

The FBI is trying to find people breaking the law? This must be stopped!!!

No, they're trying to find out IF people have broken the law. If they know or suspect they already have, they can get a warrant for the search. Otherwise, what they're doing is illegal and immoral.

What they're engaging in is essentially no better than a witch hunt. Don't call it gravy when you know perfectly well it's barf.

Everyone is using data mining (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#19834221)

I am a bit surprised that Liberals would be against the Federal Government using Data Mining. In the grand scheme of things, if socialism actually could ever be made to work, data mining would be a key tool to do it, because you could use Data mining to do central economic planning and anticipate citizens demands. On a more pragmatic scale, data mining is something that every private firm in the USA does already, to one degree or another, and services for data mining are readily available for those who lack the know-how. If the government is not allowed to data mine, then corporations, who already have all of our data, will ultimately wind up getting a more powerful hand than the government. To wit - if Amazon is allowed to know what sort of books I buy, doesn't that make it, in a way, more powerful than the government? And I haven't even mentioned Walmart, who lives and dies by it.

Everyone is joined together (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834313)

"I am a bit surprised that Liberals would be against the Federal Government using Data Mining. In the grand scheme of things, if socialism actually could ever be made to work, data mining would be a key tool to do it, because you could use Data mining to do central economic planning and anticipate citizens demands."

I think Deus Ex: The invisable war basically solved that problem by having everyone linked together.

Re:Everyone is joined together (1)

Broken scope (973885) | about 7 years ago | (#19834339)

If thats the ending you choose.

Re:Everyone is using data mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834341)

those companies are just using the data to sell me crap I don't want more efficiently

the government can use it to arrest/hassle me

that's a huge difference

Re:Everyone is using data mining (5, Insightful)

mochan_s (536939) | about 7 years ago | (#19834343)

To wit - if Amazon is allowed to know what sort of books I buy, doesn't that make it, in a way, more powerful than the government? And I haven't even mentioned Walmart, who lives and dies by it.

No, no.

Data mining does not necessarily mean that each and every data must be exact. Data mining is creating probability relationships in large populations.

There are mathematical and statistical methods where data can be obscured whilst the data mining still be accurate. Look up the field of privacy preserving data mining.

My point is that it is possible to data mine whilst preserving privacy. Privacy and benefits of data mining and not mutually exclusive.

Re:Everyone is using data mining (3, Interesting)

holistah (1002858) | about 7 years ago | (#19834479)

that's the main problem I have with the leftright scale of political idealism, it's not leftright, it's not even circular, if there's any overlap, then it's spherical.... liberal != socialist, "radical right" != and has nothing to do with conservatism, religious radicalism has nothing to do with conservatism, I'm so sick of these generalisations... why must things be explained in 1 dimension? there are not 2 sides to issues, and most positions that are traditionally linked to either side of the leftright spectrum contradict every other position traditionally linked with that side of the 'spectrum'... stop generalizing and maybe you will understand other people's positions, then, MAYBE then you will be able to compromise, AND ACTUALLY SOLVE PROBLEMS P.S. WTF is this guy getting modded troll for? He has a perfectly valid point of view, it's just founded on misconception of reality is all... P.P.S. I read some of the comments this person made to figure out if it is a dude or chick, still haven't figured that out, but it seems like they are all Right vs. Left.... maybe it is Troll, or maybe he/she is just too rigid/stupid to see other points of view in more than one dimension...

Re:Everyone is using data mining (1)

leereyno (32197) | about 7 years ago | (#19834789)

Most of the world's problems stem from the fact that so many idiots refuse to see the light of reason and just agree with everything I say.

If everyone would just wake up and smell the Lee, we'd all be so much better off.

Going outside with tight pants on....we're big pant people!!!

Re:Everyone is using data mining (4, Insightful)

suresk (816773) | about 7 years ago | (#19834481)

I would argue that the vast majority of liberals in America aren't trying to push central planning aspects of socialism.

Not to mention the fact that data mining like this would be a pretty ineffective way to do it.

Re:Everyone is using data mining (0, Flamebait)

leereyno (32197) | about 7 years ago | (#19834811)

The vast majority of Liberals in America aren't trying to push anything anymore because they are not FOR anything. They've been reduced to a subculture defined not by what its members believe in, but by what they gripe about. Where it once was about ideals and noble intentions, profoundly flawed though they might be, now it's about grudges and grievances.

They no longer attempt to promote their own ideas, but they haven't quite reached the point of examining and revising the flawed assumptions those bad ideas are based upon. Their stuck in a limbo where they're not quite sure what they are for, but they have no doubt what they are against. This is why they you'll see them denigrating and casting aspersions at their traditional political foes, but without any attempt at promoting their own ideas or explaining why they are better. They've lost their capacity to build, all they can do now is seek to destroy.

Those among them who are intellectually honest and who value truth will eventually find their way out of the darkness and into the light. Unfortunately not everyone possesses these particular virtues, and for them I do feel sorry.

Re:Everyone is using data mining (2, Insightful)

suresk (816773) | about 7 years ago | (#19834837)

I guess that is why you only hear liberals "griping" about stuff like:

- Providing adequate health care to all citizens of the country we live in
- Sensible foreign policy
- Finding alternatives to oil
- Abolishing capital punishment
- Making taxation more fair
- Taking better care of our environment

Yep, nothing but total mud-slinging at the Republican party....

Re:Everyone is using data mining (1)

Guuge (719028) | about 7 years ago | (#19834957)

If you can't identify liberals' stances on the issues then you need to go back to grade school. This is really basic stuff. I'm not even asking you to analyze the arguments, just identify them. I promise, you will not become an "intellectual elite" just by having basic comprehension skills. You can have these skills and still believe in God. You can still support Bush. You can still oppose Global Warming and Evolution. But for the sake of us all, figure out what the other side is saying. You might just find that it makes sense.

You're forgetting something (3, Insightful)

Jeff Molby (906283) | about 7 years ago | (#19834609)

To wit - if Amazon is allowed to know what sort of books I buy, doesn't that make it, in a way, more powerful than the government?

No, the data Amazon collects results primarily from my voluntary interactions with it. Thus, if Amazon abuses my trust, I can sever my relationship with it.

The government, on the other hand, retrieves this data without my consent and has the power to coerce me.

There's a big difference between those two scenarios.

But, but ... (5, Informative)

bi_boy (630968) | about 7 years ago | (#19834241)

But if you have nothing to hide .... oh yeah [slashdot.org] .

Re:But, but ... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#19834441)

So if they got a warrant before they could look at this giant database of personal information, would that be ok?

Cause that's what Professor Daniel Solove concluded in the article you are linking to said. You did read the article right? :)

Re:But, but ... (1)

bi_boy (630968) | about 7 years ago | (#19834845)

Hey this is slashdot! =P

Nah haven't gotten around to it quite yet. But a warrant first would be ok I suppose. Giant data-mining project scrutinizing everything and everyone all at once, I dunno. Doesn't sit well with me. Granted I didn't even read this article ...

Who cares (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834247)

Really now, who cares? Some facet of the US Government has been "spying" on US citizens ever since the IRS was setup. Get over it, Your definiation of "Freedom" differs from the next guy's definition of "Freedom". It's all a really grey mess.

Stop the oppressors! (1, Troll)

SamP2 (1097897) | about 7 years ago | (#19834377)

Yep, they should definitely be stopped.
Then again, we should also stop local law enforcement from catching identity thieves too, after all, they also keep records!
And to think of it, we should outlaw anti-phishing sites -- they invade the phishers' privacy rights by keeping tabs on their activities.
And stopping people from sending me emails about 3n14r91n9 my p3n15 is clearly an infringement on their freedom of speech rights.
And regulating questionable online pharmacies is infringement on the freedom of contract. I mean, if I choose to buy drugs made in some dude's basement, it's my own right to make a contract, and if I die from them, it's my own fault.

Yea, phishers, online "pharmacies", and identity thieves are sure heaps better than those blasted feds who are only here to oppress us, eh?

FBI gathering date? (1)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | about 7 years ago | (#19834389)

I have a pretty good idea that any data gathering the FBI may or may not be doing about us civilians is a fraction of what is being gathered by "marketers" every day.
Now that's a scary thought, huh?

Re:FBI gathering date? (1)

BoberFett (127537) | about 7 years ago | (#19834921)

When an online Viagra seller has the power to throw you in prison let me know. As for me, I'll worry more about the entity with nearly unlimited resources and the threat of violence knowing everything about me.

Maybe they should datamine the French (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834429)

Remember that genocide in 1994, where one million Africans died in a couple months? Well according to this Canadian article http://http//www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/stor y.html?id=506cd39e-5568-432c-8dc3-f495d3ab41bf&p=1 / [http] , the French not only knew about it before hand, they supplied and trained the killers for three years.

And French /.ers have said they opposed Bush's war in Iraq because they don't want violence. Bull.

I don't feel like loggins in for this, so feel free to mod me a troll.

.
.
.

hmmm, my captcha is "French Military Victories", that can't be right.

Re:Maybe they should datamine the French (1)

manowar821 (986185) | about 7 years ago | (#19834659)

Perhaps the French people are being "represented" by violent fuckers like our administration, too? Perhaps the French /.ers posting here against violence aren't the same people who supplied the killers back in the 90s? Are you RETARDED?

There should be a requirement that states "you must be somewhat intelligent to post comments, KTHXBYE" on slashdot.

Wow. I MEAN FUCKING WOW.

Re:Maybe they should datamine the French (1)

heinousjay (683506) | about 7 years ago | (#19834731)

Can't do that, it'll be down to three comments a story

I believe it... (1)

mr_zorg (259994) | about 7 years ago | (#19834443)

The company I work for makes fraud detection tools for private industry. Some of the clients we're talking to now are NOT private industry, if you know what I mean. I daren't say anymore though, I like my job.

This is exactly what they *should* be doing. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834477)

"...did you know that they're also supposed to be looking for people in the U.S. engaged in criminal activity that is not really supposed to be the province of the federal government? Now the feds are alleged to be data mining for insurance fraudsters, identity thieves, and questionable online pharmacists."

They *should* be looking into fraudsters, identity theft and other such items. These things cross state boundaries which the federal government is suppose to investigate. Frankly, I don't care if they're out there searching *publicly available* information.

The problem isn't that they're doing this. The problem is that the data that is out there isn't fully accurate, so people could effectively be accused on false information. (Not that this doesn't happen anyways). If they're going to use this kind of thing to pursue criminals then there needs to be checks that protect the fourth amendment (due process). In other words if someone was flagged as a possible criminal then any further information discovered as a result of them being flagged (such as them *actually* having committed a crime) must hinge upon the validity of the original data.
.

Not the feds' problem? (4, Insightful)

Shag (3737) | about 7 years ago | (#19834515)

Yeah, insurance fraud, identity theft and questionable online pharmacies aren't matters for federal law enforcement, because they don't cross state li... oh, wait.

*plonk*

Re:Not the feds' problem? (1)

jnf (846084) | about 7 years ago | (#19834653)

That was my thoughts exactly, pretty much all of them are potentially federal offenses.

Re:don't trust the governmetn (2, Interesting)

jjh37997 (456473) | about 7 years ago | (#19834517)

There's never been a power given to a federal agency that its members haven't immediately sought to abuse. But the same goes for state, local, federal government of all stripes, insurance agencies, organized religions, etc. It's human nature. Power will be abused so it's just common sense to restrict it as much as possible.

To restrict something requires the use of force (i.e. power). Who are you going to trust to wield that power, the government? A better idea is to give the power to everybody so as to eliminate the power imbalances that lead to the abuse you speak of.

*cough* (1)

msimm (580077) | about 7 years ago | (#19834771)

Well...we were supposed to give the power to the people. You know, a democracy. But as it turns out all political systems have a life-cycle and it seems the ideals have grown old and the people have begun to forget. Viva la....oh that's quite a while off. But it *is* part of the life-cycle!

Re:don't trust the governmetn (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 7 years ago | (#19834925)

To restrict something requires the use of force (i.e. power).

Actually, that's the hard way of restricting something, and is error prone since the people/activities you are trying to restrict will keep trying to get around the boundaries.

The easier way to restrict something is to make sure it doesn't have the resources to do it in the first place.

"I have nothing to hide" == 1984 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834519)

Unfortunately, people seem to accept infringement after infringement always telling themselves that it won't apply to THEM.... And, eventually, we have 1984. War is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength. Survalience Is Safety.

And, In the end, /.'s last comment before being completely shutdown will be a resounding "we told you so." But, it won't matter, because no one will ever read it.

This sounds reasonable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834537)

Aren't all of these 5 categories of data they are looking into correlated with prior terrorist conduct?

- Identity theft? Check - think some of the 9/11 driver's licenses.
- The other four categories of fraudulent monetary theft? Check - think past uses by terrorist asshats of, for example, counterfeit money to fund their violent activities.

If catching and stopping terrorism is the goal, then using these investigative methods certainly should sound reasonable to any observant lay person like us.

My biggest problem... (5, Insightful)

suresk (816773) | about 7 years ago | (#19834549)

Is that our lives are becoming more and more transparent to the government, but the government is becoming more and more opaque to us. This is the exact opposite of how it should be and should be a huge flashing warning light to everyone.

FBI mining data...with what? (5, Interesting)

unitron (5733) | about 7 years ago | (#19834619)

Is this the same FBI that has been in the news in the past few years for not being able to get a decent modern computer system in spite of throwing millions of our tax dollars at the problem?

Wish We Could Mod the Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834669)

I'd mod this -1 Dumbass./P

republicansarefuckingfascists (1, Flamebait)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 7 years ago | (#19834683)

Man, you know you're doing something right when you're the Minority Party and the radical left still blames you.

Re:republicansarefuckingfascists (2, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | about 7 years ago | (#19834781)

Man, you know you're doing something right when you're the Minority Party and the radical left still blames you.
OK, I guess I must have been asleep for the past few years. I thought FBI Director Mueller was nominated by the President, and I seem to recall that some guy named Alberto Gonzales is running the show at the DoJ. Furthermore, we're talking about questionable behavior and potential abuses of power that have been ongoing for several years now. Y'know, while the conservatives held the majority, wiping their tender arses with the Constitution and making the largest federal powergrab in the history of the United States.

Yeah, the nerve of the "radical left" to cry foul... </eyeroll>

Re:republicansarefuckingfascists (0, Troll)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 7 years ago | (#19834815)

Hey thanks for playing. Too bad the Democrats do the exact same thing.

Try again next time ya hear.

Oh BTW, putting the Ayatollah in charge of Iran really worked out well for you Democrats didn't it.

Re:republicansarefuckingfascists (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834839)

Clinton made me do it!

Re:republicansarefuckingfascists (4, Informative)

MikeJ9919 (48520) | about 7 years ago | (#19834939)

The largest federal powergrab in the history of the United States? Have you read any history?

Some better examples:

(1) The Reconstruction Congress forcing the ratification of the 14th Amendment as a condition for readmitting the Confederacy to the Union. This eventually gave the federal government final say over whether just about anything the states did was Constitutional.

(2) The massive expansion in size and spending of the federal government under Roosevelt, claiming the right to regulate practically anything under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Would you believe that the Supreme Court determined that a man growing wheat for his own family's consumption could be prevented from doing so because that consumption, taken together with others doing the same thing, would overall reduce the national demand for wheat? You should, because it not only happened, it's still good law. In fact, the only pushback against it has come from...wait for it...Republicans.

(3) Abraham Lincoln unilaterally suspended habeas corpus on United States soil as applied to United States citizens.

You were saying?

And the problem is what, exactly please? (1)

djh101010 (656795) | about 7 years ago | (#19834691)

Seems to me, this list of miscreants accounts for about 80% of the spam my filters catch. Tell me again why I should give a shit that some viagra insurance spammer trying to steal my identity with some phishing scheme shouldn't be gone after?

Oh, and for the people who are going to say I'm promoting "I have nothing to hide therefore I don't care", NO, I'm not saying that. I'm saying, if someone in authority is going after the people who leech from tha intarwebs rather than contribute to same, I'm all for it.

where does it state... (1)

glitch23 (557124) | about 7 years ago | (#19834701)

in the article that the types of crimes they are mining data for are not their responsibility? Also, all databases have at least some data integrity issues. This is especially the case if the data is entered by hand and at some point the data is almost always generated somewhere along the line by a human and then possibly turned into a machine-readable form for insertion into a database. The millions of digital fingerprints in storage now are subject to the quality of the print when it was on the card (however high quality scanners are used). Any system has a garbage in rate and a garbage out rate. The FBI knows that and they aren't going to use a system that is going to give them bad results. If enough false positives show up the FBI will realize they are just wasting their time tracking down false leads. This doesn't preclude them from requesting and paying for a system to be designed that may include bad data, but at least after using it and seeing the error of their requests they won't use the system. Because of this the ACLU is wasting their time complaining about data quality. This isn't any different than huge database owned by banks or credit companies (which would contain an order of magnitude more records) and I don't see anyone complaining about the data quality of those databases (they can still be mined too).

sanity check... (4, Interesting)

AmishElvis (1101979) | about 7 years ago | (#19834703)

Karma whores, all of you.

...looking for people in the U.S. engaged in criminal activity that is not really supposed to be the province of the federal government...

Since when is it not the province of the FBI to look for people in the U.S. engaged in criminal activity? It's their fucking job. That's why it's called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If all you people can do is trot out the same old "government bad...GOVERNMENT BAD!" knee-jerk conspiracy theories when shit like this pops up in the news, nobody is going to take you seriously. At least RTFA and comment on the actual issues.

For example...

But it [the database] could be based, in part at least, on commercial or public information that might not be accurate -- potentially ranking an innocent person as a terror threat. Watch lists, for example, have mistakenly identified people as suspects based on their similar names or birthdates to terrorists.

I can see this being a major problem. I'd hate to have a name like, oh I dunno, Osama Bin Laden, and try to get through an airport security checkpoint. More importantly, what if I do something mildly suspicious that comes to the attention of the authorities? I can imagine the conversation...

FBI Agent: We'd like a warrant to wiretap this man's phone.

Judge: What did he do?

FBI Agent: He wrote a strongly worded letter to his local police department contesting a parking ticket he received.

Judge: I dunno, that seems pretty weak. What's his name?

FBI Agent: Osama Bin Laden.

Judge: Granted.

Maybe in addition to a terrorist watch list we should have a not-a-terrorist-don't-watch list. Just a thought.

Nothing to hide (0, Flamebait)

Bombula (670389) | about 7 years ago | (#19834733)

As someone with nothing to hide, I have to say I don't have much of a problem with the government recording and listening to my phone calls, and I don't have a huge amount of sympathy for people who do. I suppose that makes me a bad person of some kind, but if they catch the guy with the suitcase nuke before he vaporizes LA and they catch the mutherfucker who took out to credit cards in my name last year then I could care less if they also bust people who are trying to cheat on their taxes who would otherwise have gotten away with it because of their privacy protection.

I guess I just care a lot more about truth than about process. That's not to say that process is completely unimportant, but I definitely fall further on the spectrum toward prioritizing truth. I don't think much of the 5th Ammendment, for example. Why should you be able to ask someone under oath, "did you kill him?" at a murder trial? I don't want to hear that the slam-dunk evidence against the pedophile is 'inadmissible' because cops didn't follow procedure. But I guess that's just me.

Re:Nothing to hide (1)

Bombula (670389) | about 7 years ago | (#19834755)

Oops - typo, should have read: "why SHOULDN'T you be able to ask someone under oath, "did you kill him?" at a murder trial?

Re:Nothing to hide (1)

suresk (816773) | about 7 years ago | (#19834807)

You are against due process? Wow.. That is a pretty basic right that has been pretty widely recognized in some form or another for centuries.

I think your argument that you are interested mostly in the truth is disingenuous in that light - the 5th amendment helps protect against the government obscuring the truth in order to convict someone of a crime. Yeah, it sucks that sometimes the constitution sometimes protects the bad guys, but it would suck even worse if it weren't there to protect the rest of us.

Re:Nothing to hide (4, Informative)

leereyno (32197) | about 7 years ago | (#19834929)

You're arguing from the flawed premise that privacy is about hiding one's sins. It is not. Privacy is about liberty, about the right of each individual to personal sovereignty. That which is private is beyond the legitimate purview of the state, or of society. Privacy is not about the things that people do wrong in secret. It is simply the sum of all that is not public.

You claim you have nothing to hide, but you do. If you were forced to walk down main street without a stitch of clothes on, defecate into a bucket in plain sight, and then present the contents to passers-by for inspection, I guarantee that your respect for privacy would be improved tremendously. It would be even further improved if the details of your paycheck, credit card statements, and bank balance were to be presented to the world via a large electronic billboard on your front lawn. If this idea truly does not bother you, then I invite you to publish those financial details here. Put your money where your mouth is.

The long and short of it is that there are aspects of each person's life that they and they alone have the rightful authority to regulate. The only way to ensure that this right is not abridged or undermined is to keep those aspects secret.

Privacy is the first protector of liberty.

I really have to say (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#19834761)

avoteforrepublicansisavoteforvictory, republicansarefuckingfascists

That's so lame. It just makes the opposition look like a bunch of twerps.

That is the FBI's job. (1, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 years ago | (#19834803)

You should get annoyed when the CIA does that. As long as it is the FBI, it is OK. That is what they are supposed to do. It is called 'Police Work'.

"Conservative" Supreme Court will save us (really) (4, Interesting)

triclipse (702209) | about 7 years ago | (#19834817)

An out of control Federal government is the result of many decades of the judiciary backing down as congress passed laws which allowed the executive to invade the provinces of the States, rendering the Ninth and Tenth Amendments all but meaningless.

It wasn't until Lopez v. United States [wikipedia.org] (and, subsequently, United States v. Morrison [wikipedia.org] ) that the Supreme Court had the balls (well, with O'Connor, the ovaries) to draw the line for the first time in seventy years and keep the Feds out of the State's business.

Yes, that would be Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, O'Connor and Rehnquist. We can only hope that Alito and Roberts will be "conservative" that way too.

If it was up to those nutbags Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter, there would be no distinction between the States' province and the Fed's province. Those of you hoping for a democrat president better be aware that democratic appointees will almost surely give the Feds back all the power they lost under Rehnquist. (Yes, I know Souter was appointed by Bush I.)

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19834847)

Just maybe the FBI will check into corporate crimes, crimes of the rich, crimes of George Bush too! Probably not.
Its like torte reform, it was only designed to go after poor people trying to sue corporations but Bush's torte reform did nothing to stop the RIAA from going after average citizens.

Good. (0, Troll)

WheelDweller (108946) | about 7 years ago | (#19834993)

Isn't that what we _pay_ them to do, in the first place?

Why does everything the governent does come as some sort of lethal, subversive crime? Colgate/Palmolive knows much more about you, than them.

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