The Government Data Mines Everyone

If you’re curious exactly how far the government’s data mining is going, the Wall Street Journal has a scary article up about how the government is literally combing through every single record you have these days for evidence of criminality. It doesn’t stop at the nation’s telecoms: your AOL account, your bank records, any record that could possibly be used against you is routinely being requested by and granted to the Federal Government.

Most of these requests aren’t even legal in the traditional sense of the world: they are sloppy fishing exercises from agencies trying to find some terrorists at all costs to justify their heavy handed tactics. For example, AOL (to be fair, one of the more legally scrupulous companies mentioned in the article) turns down twelve thousand requests for customer information every year. Last year alone, the FBI issued 9,200 National Security Letters (or subpoenas) seeking information on 3,501 citizens without a court’s approval.

It’s a bad situation for any company to be in: more and more often, companies are having to choose between customer privacy and the unrelenting demands of a paranoid and power-hungry government. You know, I never used to say this… but outside of Ireland’s depressing lack of steak-and-cheese subs, I sure am glad I got out of America five years ago. This is what happens when you give up your rights because you are scared.

Requests for Corporate Data Multiply [Wall Street Journal]

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  1. Andrew W says:

    To be fair, if you’re in a country that’s been targeted by terrorists, your government is taking extreme steps too. As usual, though, America has an enormous resource advantage.

  2. I’m in disbelief that more people aren’t up in arms about this- I know it is making headlines, but this is some serious Police State shit. Has this administration hyped the fear of “terror” in us so much that we’re just willing to bend over and let them take whatever they want? 2008 cannot come soon enough. I cannot believe how much damage the Bush administration has been capable of causing.

  3. Morgan says:

    Yeah, we all know that the reason Ireland isn’t data mining its citizens is that it never gets targeted by terrorists. Why, there’s never been any terrorist activity in Ireland at all! </sarcasm>

  4. Brian Gee says:

    I hear ya, Paul.

    During the 2000 election fiasco, I kept saying to my friends, “You know, even if Bush wins, he’s only got 1 or 2 terms. How much could he possibly do?”

    Right now I’m way more afraid of our government than any potential terrorist threat. Osama must be laughing his ass off at us. The damage this administration has done over the last 5 years will take decades to undo, even if Bush resigned today.

    Andrew, the “extreme steps” being taken by the government are not just invasive and ineffective; they’re also illegal.

    This shit must stop.

  5. AcidReign says:

    …..You know, if I actually was a terrorist discussing plans via email, I’d use PGP encryption. And probably the TOR Onion router if I was posting vids of Osama to websites… I read that there’s now a version for the Skype-like internet phone products, too. I think it’s called Zfone. Data mining is only going to catch the dumb-ass terrorists. Or maybe that isn’t the real goal…