The FBI's data mining program took a mile when it was given an inch. Film at eleven.

Sep 11, 2007

A number of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation have confirmed what people have been saying since the get-go, which is that the FBI's telecommunications data mining program went far beyond what it was supposed to (login/password required, will hook you up). It's well known and documented that the US government's been leaning on telecommunication companies all across the country (and a few rolled over and bared their throats without even being ordered) to provide them with lists of names and numbers of their customers so that who called whom at what time could be reconstructed, but it's been revealed that the FBI was not only tracking primary targets (who called whom), but secondaries, tertiaries, and gods know how far down the chain (an example to illustrate: The FBI figured out that Alice calls Bob, Charlie, and Dave on a regular basis, but then they started tracking whom Bob, Charlie, and Dave talk to aside from Alice, thus generating and analyzing entire social networks) in their process of link analysis. Official documents state that they followed links defined as "once removed" from the target of inquiry, but they've lied before so it's entirely possible that this isn't true (especially when you take into account what they've published of their unclassified social network analysis software).