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Government Access To Private Databases . By Kathleen Isley and John D’Alessandro. The National Security Agency. Fighting against terrorism Domestic Spying Program Access to telecommunication companies’ databases allows for mass data mining of phone and internet logs without public knowledge.

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government access to private databases

Government Access To Private Databases

By Kathleen Isley and John D’Alessandro

the national security agency
The National Security Agency
  • Fighting against terrorism
  • Domestic Spying Program
  • Access to telecommunication companies’ databases allows for mass data mining of phone and internet logs without public knowledge
the issue at hand
The Issue at hand…

In light of the possible threat of terrorism, is the NSA’s use of the private data mining industry as a surveillance tool ethical?

what is data mining
What is Data-Mining
  • Data mining is searching through phone calls, emails, online postings, shopping receipts, financial transactions, and even instant messages in order to retrieve information on people.
data mining not a new theory
Data-Mining: Not a new theory
  • It is not a recent trend for information to be stored and retrieved by large corporations and other types of organizations
    • Retailers, for example, mine data on customer interactions and purchase histories to determine promotions or in-store placement.” (High Stakes Data-Mining).
data mining
Data Mining
  • Government is a top buyer of data mining programs (Harris)
  • In 2004 U.S. feeral agencies engaged in 199 data mining projects (Hoover)
  • 122 of which include personal information (Hoover)
an example at t
An Example: AT&T
  • In January 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against AT&T
  • AT&T would not publicly deny or confirm
  • The lawsuit was dismissed in July
  • The information made public after it was leaked by an AT&T technician
On May 11 the USA Today reported that AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Bellsouth had all agreed to submit phone logs to the NSA
  • Bellsouth and Verizon denied these claims but, AT&T did not
  • Verizon would not comment on whether or not MCI had worked with the NSA
  • In June members of the House and Senate intelligence committees confirmed that the NSA had compiled a massive database of domestic phone call records
  • However, it was not released what these records are used for, how they were complied, or if their use was legal
advantages to data mining
Advantages to Data Mining
  • Can help stop monetary crimes such as money fraud and Identity theft.
    • “Data-mining techniques regularly help investigators identify credit-card-fraud and money-laundering patterns.” (Big Brother 101)
Helps to catch criminals and terrorists without giving away critical information on innocent citizens.
    • Shopping records
    • Online sites visited
    • Recipients of emails and phone calls
violation of privacy
Violation of Privacy
  • “Part of what we mean by privacy in the West is the ability to control access to our information (qtd. in “Internet brings ‘increasing bewilderment’ about concept of privacy”).”
  • Privacy is not concretely defined or protected
  • Expectations of privacy in the U.S. are higher than most countries
not as much privacy as you think
Not as much privacy as you think
  • A lot of information is already stored on each citizen anyways
    • These records include outgoing and incoming phone numbers, time stamps, and other information, such as whether the call had been forwarded, but not names. USA Today reported that AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon gave the government access to call data records starting in late 2001. The ambitious goal, according to an unnamed source quoted by the paper, is to put "every call ever made" in the United States into the database.” (Hoover, InformationWeek)
the u s constitution
The U.S. Constitution
  • The Fourth Amendment reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

time for a change
Time for a change?
  • Constitution has been amended 27 times.
  • No right to privacy granted in the constitution
    • Because the internet has changed so much, and is in constant change, we need laws to govern its uses and the people that are internet users.
    • Consumers and Users have never been promised privacy on the internet, especially when they are the ones giving their information away.
not effective
Not Effective
  • Tendency to solve problems that already occurred
  • There is no indication of what future terrorism will entail
  • Popular Science: “Predictive data mining to preempt terrorist activities hasn’t been publicly proven so far (Schachtman).”
things to consider
Things to consider…
  • How much information can be extracted from phone record?
  • This is all of the information known, what else is going on?
  • What other information could the government have access to?
  • Will the government always be able to have all related lawsuits dropped?
  • We must consider how this practice of the NSA could evolve in the future
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • Imagine you are a worker at a factory and your friend has a health problem that is slightly affecting their performance at work, but could later on have a great effect on their performance. Your friend has decided not to tell the employer of the condition. In the following weeks, your employer learns of your friend’s condition through information such as shopping records, phone calls, and internet sites visited. Your friend in turn gets fired. Is this an ethical use of data mining? Is your friend’s condition personal business since it is affecting their work, or does the company have a right to know about the health condition?
discussion questions18
Discussion Questions
  • Companies have been tracking information on their customers and employees for years, long before the government had access to the information. For example, phone companies have tracked where and to whom calls have been placed. Is this an ethical act for the companies to record their customer’s activities, or is it the consumer’s private information that is being exploited? What makes this an ethical act or what makes this the customer’s private data? Why not the other way around?
discussion questions19
Discussion Questions
  • Recently in the news, you have seen many reports of possible terrorist threats avoided due to information received from data mining. While the government has claimed to have arrested many terrorists from credible information, many innocent people have also been detained an, in turn, set free, due to faulty information. Is the reward of catching possible terrorists worth the risk of detaining innocent American citizens?