06 October, 2006

Data sharing and data mining

I've been listening to a podcast of a Council of Foreign Relations presentation on the impact of new technologies on intelligence acquisition and analysis. Some neat ideas. The best one involves a technology that can anonomyze data before it is shared, so the analysts (down the hall, or in another agaency, or in another government) can look for relevant patterns without being able to identify any of the individuals whose data they are reviewing. Then, if and when they find something they move through channels, making a formal request to find out the identitifying information about, for example, subject asfdpolije;lkjik12320. Perhaps a third party would keep the key, and neither agency could dig out the idenifiying information. Interesting technology. Of course, the system could probably be broken, but only with so much effort that it makes no sense to try. At least, in the technical sense. But there's still the problem of a "legitimate/legal" official using the system for personal and political ends. If Nixon could press the IRS for records, and Clinton could use both IRS and FBI files, I have a lot less faith in the people using the technology than I do in in the technology itself.

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