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This is Why We Need Oversight!

Christina Drummond,
ACLU of Washingon
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January 30, 2007


On the eve of the 6th Circuit hearing for the ACLU v. NSA case, we learn about even more vacuum cleaner approaches to domestic surveillance, except this time it’s under the guise of the FBI and not the NSA. Evidently entire streams of information are being sucked up, to be mined later by data analysis techniques.

Data-mining algorithms enable the systematic profiling of all people, with the intent of mining the good apples from the bad. Yet, who tells the computer what a “bad apple” is? And, you need everyone’s data to search through – everyday lawful Americans and the actual terrorists. Is trampling the rights of everyone in this country absolutely necessary in order to find the few bad apples?

Such data mining expects that terrorists never change their behavior, or it requires a history of data to establish patterns over time. In my opinion, the government has absolutely no right to keep such ongoing tabs on lawful citizens, and I believe our founding fathers would have agreed.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, our day-to-day lives and communications were not recorded in bits and bytes. Now that we have so much more interaction with technology, we desperately need oversight and protections to keep those in power from trampling our freedoms.

The 6th Circuit hearing regarding the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program is tomorrow at 3pm EST. I’ll be blogging throughout the day from Cincinnati, so more to come on what’s up for discussion and how the arguments go.

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