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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Think They Wouldn’t? They Did

Left In Lowell

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March 10, 2008

Think They Wouldn’t? They Did

by at 1:50 pm.

Information is a precious and precarious commodity these days. Many “trusted” companies you do business with are selling their data on you to other companies. Junk mail and spam attack you at all angles, scams abound, and the universe is getting smaller and smaller.

Conservatives and liberals alike ought to be very, very frightened of our Big Brother culture. Because Big Brother is doing it…again:

Siobhan Gorman of The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the National Security Agency has assembled what some intelligence officials admit is a driftnet for domestic and foreign communications.

Here’s the way the whole thing works, according to Gorman: into the NSA’s massive database goes data collected by the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Treasury. This information includes data about email (recipient and sender address, subject, time sent), internet searches (sites visited and searches conducted), phone calls (incoming and outgoing numbers, length of call, location), financial information (wire transfers, credit-card use, information about bank accounts), and information from the DHS about airline passengers.
Gorman describes the NSA’s effort (elements of which have been reported before) as basically a resurrection of the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program, which of course was de-funded by Congress once the details became public.

OK, so the NSA figured out that naming a program Total Information Awareness sounded really Orwellian. So they changed the name and kept doing it - even after Congress said “No!”. Can someone tell me just where the due process is? Hello? Do we even have a Bill of Rights anymore?

And how important do you think it is to keep telecom immunity out of the FISA bill now?

2 Responses to “Think They Wouldn’t? They Did”

  1. waittilnextyr Says:

    Was ther a warrant on this?

    ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

  2. bobo Says:

    This type of stuff doesn’t surprise me. Not in the current administration.

    While I don’t like the idea of big brother being able to read and cross link everything I do, I’d be more worried if I though the Feds actually had the manpower resources to do anything more than scratch the surface of analyzing this data and following up on the people they already are looking at anyway. A lot of these databases, especially outside the data sifting technology, are only as good as the input, if there is any of significance. They rely a lot on local law enforcement agencies to input materials, if the locals have the technology access to begin with. You can search for anything, but the information has to be there to find it. Also while the flow goes up the food chain, access to the general body of info generally doesn’t come back down. So your locals can’t get at the overall network of data. Your neighbor the cop doesn’t know if you like to look at naughty adult web sites, (unless of course he’s on them too). The patterns the FBI (for example) has the resources to look at don’t have anything to do with the general public. Now, Corporations with access to data on everything I do selling it to anyone for a price, that is scary.

    John Q public (by that I mean me, I hope) probably has little to worry about from the government crosslinking on what I search the web for, the title of my emails or when I go to the ATM. The long run problem isn’t gathering and storing the data, its having enough capable people to handle it, analyze it and follow up on it. We all know how well the dots were connected for 9-11. You have to know who you are looking for, or at least VERY specific patterns, for a lot of this stuff to even be useful. Now if I were say a terrorist (foriegn or domestic), a democratic candidate, anti-war activist, lefty blogger or anyone who opposed the people with access to this stuff, I might be more worried my name might start to pop up a little more often than John Q. Even still, I wouldn’t expect a knock on you door or an inquiry where you work unless that happened to be somewhere sensitive. For example a friend of mine who formerly worked in the military, used to use me as a reference for background checks. So yeah I actually have gotten a home phone call from the FBI before. Its also true they don’t have much of a sense of humor, trust me.

    But since I’m nobody important (are you listening NSA?) I’m probably OK. That’s right I said I’m NOBODY IMPORTANT to worry about. Pay no attention to me the innocent blog poster.

    Seriously, stop reading this.

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