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August 10, 2005

Data-Mining Would Have ID'd All The 9-11 Terrorists?

It seems that (ignored) data-mining found Atta's cell, and it might have found the rest of the crew, too, had we done more of it.

Kaus quotes Heather MacDonald:

It's okay for Home Depot to buy my digitized credit-card receipts, says the privacy "community," to see whether I would be a soft touch for a riding mower. But if government agents want to see who has purchased explosive-level quantities of fertilizer, they should go store to store, checking credit-card receipts. Data-mining opponents would deny terror investigators a technology in common use in the commercial sector, simply because they think government should be kept inefficient to limit its power ....

I grow weary over the hysteria over the claim that the government is going to be looking over all our library records. For the love of everything holy, do you think the government gives a rat's ass that you've read all of the Elfstone of Shannara books? Yes, it's embarassing, and such information could easily lead to blackmail in the wrong hands, but give me a frigging break.

These people act as if the feds are going to come knocking just because you bought an old copy of The Story of O from an eBay second-dealer.

There's libertarianism, and then there's just a sort of goofy solipsistic paranoia. As if most of us are important enough that the feds should dedicate manhours and money to tracking our purchases at Bed Bath & Beyond.

I understand why a lot of left-liberals feel this way -- their political philosphy is largely just a system of self-affirmations, a political/personal reinforcement of the truism that everyone is the hero of his own life's story -- but I don't get conservatives who succumb to this silliness.


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posted by Ace at 03:40 PM

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