InformationWeek is reporting here on a data mining system offered by Systems Research Development, which was partly funded by the CIA, was recently acquired by IBM, and is used by unmentioned government agencies. The features discussed in the short article look like pretty simple database matches.
Given that many people arrested for terrorism are later released, it’s unclear how dangerous any one “known terrorist” really is. And if the police don’t know, you certainly won’t know when you shack up with one. I wonder whether the SRD system also checks for a shared IP address–you’d better look into who’s sharing your connection point to you Internet Service Provider! The larger article called “Data Grab” that surround this little news item offers a business person’s perspective on the issues of data mining and data retention. Very open ended, the article acknowledges that businesses ranging from search sites to major financial institutions are worried about how much the government demands of them. While some of the concern is financial (retaining and handing over data costs money), they also feel philosophically that the need for security has to be balanced against privacy and the risk of abuse by governments–or the leaking of stored data.