Saturday, December 24, 2005

The NSA and Data Mining

The New York Times reports that the National Security Agency has employed data mining to spot potential threats:
What has not been publicly acknowledged is that N.S.A. technicians, besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation.
...
This so-called "pattern analysis" on calls within the United States would, in many circumstances, require a court warrant if the government wanted to trace who calls whom.
In the Washington Post, national security blogger William M. Arkin looks at Section 126 of the Patriot Act Reauthorization, which would require the Attorney General to submit reports to Congress on data mining surveilance programs. Arkin points out that data mining is very different than selecting specific targets for electronic surveilance; instead the entire global commnications network is the subject:
My guess is the government decided after 9/11 to monitor everyone.
By the way, the NSA, which was long said to stand for "No Such Agency," has a website that includes a kids' section featuring the NSA/CSS CryptoKids (America's Future Codemakers and Codebreakers) with names like Crypto Cat and Decipher Dog. The site includes games, teacher resources and guides for kids who want to learn to make their own codes. At least one government agency is doing its part to encourage our young people to pursue math and science careers.

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