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From today's NY Times
S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC NetLab Director
Centre for Urban & Community Studies University of Toronto
455 Spadina Avenue Room 418 Toronto Canada M5S 2G8
Updating history: http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
Elvis wouldn't be singing "Return to Sender" these days
"F.B.I. Data Mining Reached Beyond Initial Targets"
New York Times (09/09/07) P. 1; Lichtblau, Eric
Newly obtained FBI documents show that the bureau's data mining efforts to
find data on terrorism activities was more widespread than originally
thought. The FBI relied on telecommunications companies to analyze
phone-call patterns of the associates of Americans who had come under
suspicion, creating a "community of interest" that could implicate
innocent Americans in investigations. The bureau stopped using this
practice early this year, partially because of broader questions on its
aggressive use of the records demands, known as national security letters.
The community of interest data is important to a data-mining technique
known as link analysis, which uses communications patterns and other data
to identify suspects who may not have any other known links to extremists.
Supporters of the system say it is a vital tool in predicting and
preventing attacks, but privacy advocates, civil rights leaders, and even
some counterterrorism officials say link analysis can be misus
ed to establish links to people who have no real connection with
terrorism. The FBI declined to say exactly what data was examined, but a
government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says the data
was limited to people and phone numbers "once removed" from the central
target. The FBI's Mike Kortan says that community of interest data is "no
longer being used pending the development of an appropriate oversight and
approval policy," and that the technique was used infrequently and was
never used for email communications.
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