Friday, November 14, 2008

U.S. Data Mining for Terrorist Activities Ineffective

Investor's Business Daily reviewed a report by the National Research Council on the U.S. Government's use of data mining to identify potential terrorists. The report, titled Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment, concludes that the data mining initiative "is ineffective and threatens the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans".

"We were consistently concerned that data mining does not have demonstrated efficacy for fighting terrorists," said Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland computer science professor and one of the 21 committee members."

The report discusses the danger is relying on databases that are notorious for inaccuracies:

"The DHS has purchased at least parts of databases from ChoicePoint, LexisNexis and Axiom, says [Stephen] Fienberg, who also works in Carnegie Mellon's CyLab, the largest university-based cybersecurity institute in the U.S."

"Merging data from various databases inevitably leads to mistakes. But government counterterrorism programs don't always take into account where its information comes from or whether it might not be true.

"It's basically a problem where government programs really are not focused on the data sources and the correctness, but rather the use of the data they have at hand," Fienberg said."

Data Mining Failing To Hit Mother Lode In Finding Terrorists

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