Jul 12, 2007
Ever since 9/11, the US government has been an informational vacuum cleaner that sucks up information on just about everyone in this country, or who happens to enter or leave the country (as some people with laptops have discovered). What they do with it and where they put it all is a matter of some speculation; suffice it to say that the network attached storage system companies are making a killing selling RAID systems to them... at any rate, it's come to light that they're mining more than just terrorism-related information to generate profiles on people. In fact, there are five other databases than the STAR (System To Assess Risk) database announced in 2005 that is used to try to predict someone's ties to terrorist groups. These other systems include a database that helps to map reports of identity theft across the country to determine if and where identity theft rings are operating (which has been in operation since 2003), and a system that correlates data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau's database against unspecified other information to locate major insurance fraud scams (though no date of activation is given for this system). Fantastic amounts of data are being poured into these systems; it's anyone's guess if anyone or anything is querying some subset of these databases and making cross-system connections.
There is also speculation that They are buying information from major data brokers, such as Choicepoint. Like the credit agencies' records, there's no guarantee that the information is correct, and if there's a mechanism in place that allows for the correction of bad data points, nobody's saying anything.
Random note: Transhumanists might wish to ponder the possibility that a system such as this will spontaneously become self-aware at some point in the future.