world war E
dispatches from the network society

FBI datamining

A forthcoming Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reveals that the scope of the FBI’s datamining program goes beyond the Global War on Terror into general domestic criminal behavior. Senator Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remarked:

“This report raises more questions than it answers and demonstrates just how dramatically the Bush Administration has expanded the use of this technology, often in secret, to collect and sift through Americans’ most sensitive personal information.  Unfortunately, the Congress and the American public know very little about these and other data mining programs, making them ripe for abuse.

“The report, filed four months after it was due, is an important and all too rare ray of sunshine on the Department’s data mining activities and provides Congress with an opportunity to conduct meaningful oversight of this powerful technological tool.  I look forward to thoroughly examining the findings in this report with the Attorney General and the FBI Director in the coming weeks.”

This most recent GAO report will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.

The GAO, in line with legislative requirements and requests by Congressional committees, has published a series of reports since 2001 on various government datamining programs. Some of the highlights:

1. Federal Efforts Cover a Wide Range of Uses (GAO-04-548), 2004
2. Agencies Have Taken Key Steps to Protect Privacy in Selected Efforts, but Significant Compliance Issues Remain (GAO-05-866), 2005
3. Key Challenges Facing Federal Agencies (GAO-06-777T), 2006
4. Early Attention to Privacy in Developing a Key DHS Program could Reduce Risks (GAO-07-293), 2007

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