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Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 24, 2005

 
Little Red Data Miner

It turns out the Little Red Book Story was a hoax. Thank Goodness. But lest anyone think that this means anything, check this out:

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.

[...]

"There was a lot of discussion about the switches" in conversations with the court, a Justice Department official said, referring to the gateways through which much of the communications traffic flows. "You're talking about access to such a vast amount of communications, and the question was, How do you minimize something that's on a switch that's carrying such large volumes of traffic? The court was very, very concerned about that."

Since the disclosure last week of the N.S.A.'s domestic surveillance program, President Bush and his senior aides have stressed that his executive order allowing eavesdropping without warrants was limited to the monitoring of international phone and e-mail communications involving people with known links to Al Qaeda.

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.


That's what we all thought. TIA Redux. Which means they have likely been sifting through millions of Americans' communications, with the acquiescence of your friendly neighborhood phone and internet provider, looking for keywords, patterns ... well, we don't know, now do we, because it's all done with no oversight. They could be looking for signs of illicit blow jobs, which is, as we all know, a major threat to the republic.

I would not expect that this mining is quite as sophisticated as we might like. After all, we are surveilling Quakers and PETA because they are terrorist threats so I wouldn't look for the NSA to have some mind boggling, science fiction level capabilities to sort out the person who is discussing current events from the terrorist trying to kill us all.

Oh well. If you don't want to be a suspect, just don't use your phone or computer. Or the US mail. Or an airplane. Or a library. And if you do use those things, just don't say anything that a computer might interpret to be a threat. Is that so hard? Use your heads, people. This is what we have to do to preserve our freedom.




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