Month: June 2013

Big Data And The Federal Government

All my life I have been thankful to be living in the United States of America. From my earliest memories when my mom tried to force me to eat liver by telling me of all the starving children in China and India, to the Patriot Act which collects personal data on potential terrorists. Well, that’s what I thought it did.

This week we learned that the Patriot Act is a bit more invasive than initially indicated. The Federal Government is accumulating macro-data on most American citizens through their telephone call records, their Internet activities, and their credit card records.

Folks, that’s a LOT of private information being snooped in these programs and that is in addition to the IRS exclusively investigating conservative groups in support of the Obama Re-Elect campaign. This is the worst nightmare you can imagine.

Server Racks In Data Warehouse
Server Racks In Data Warehouse

Here’s the way things work. The FBI will go to a FISA Court judge and get a subpoena to collect data on an individual, or set of individuals. After getting the subpoena, they then collect the information from the telephone companies and give it to the NSA. The NSA will dump all this data into their system, and crank-up their data mining programs.

The NSA uses this macro-data, information about the underlying data, to make connections and assumptions about your usage of the telephone networks. This is double jeopardy. First of all, your private communications habits are being reviewed constantly, depriving you of privacy. Secondly, no matter what criteria are used in their pattern searches, there is a chance that you will wind-up being personally investigated. There will be FALSE POSITIVES. Their big dragnet will always come up with candidates as suspects whether they have done anything or not to deserve the attention. There may be no terrorists uncovered by this data, but the Feds will likely investigate every person who bubbles up in their statistical scheme.

The horror story is not over.

Another onerous NSA program has been uncovered called, PRISM. This is a program to accumulate your personal data from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, etc. Since Google is constantly having bots read your email, this means that the government has access to what you have been talking about. If Google can tailor ads to your interests, then the Federal Government can deduce your political views, buying habits, sexual preferences, and other things you think are super-secret because all these big internet companies have privacy policies. Well, that’s what they tell us.

Oh, ignorance is bliss.

Enter Big Data and the 2012 Presidential Election. The Obama campaign used data mining techniques to acquire the votes to put Obama over the top. The campaign knew down to an individual who had to be convinced, and personal phone calls and visits were made to get the job done. This knowledge came from the data mining effort.

Google’s Chairman of The Board, Eric Schmidt, bankrolled a data-mining operation called Civis Analytics, after the campaign. In addition to doing commercial work, Civis will consult with Democrat political candidates in the next election. No Republicans will be helped. He claims that he did not furnish data for the campaign effort, but the Obama campaign knew pretty much how everybody would be voting, and how to deploy their resources to influence votes.

Eric Schmidt is a personal friend to Barack Obama. Does it not make you wonder if you Google searches are unbiased by their algorithms? So, did Eric Schmidt have anything to do with giving data accumulated by Google to the Obama Administration? Inquiring minds want to know.

I am not so sure I want to keep my email account with Google, anymore. Well, maybe I should extend that to Yahoo, also. Oh, my Microsoft email account and Skydrive cloud storage account are under surveillance, too. What can I do? Who can I trust?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Who can you trust?

I don’t trust the Government of The United States. I don’t trust anybody, anymore.

Who do you trust?