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May 15, 2006

NSA Acquires The Scary, Invasive Data-Mining Capabilities Of Telemarketers

Brown Line writes:

This whining amuses me. I write telephone routing applications for a living. For many of our customers, we hit a commercially available database with every call; for a few cents, the database company translates the caller's phone number into his name, address, number of adults in his household, number of minor children, credit cards held, cars owned, median income of his neighborhood, ethnic breakdown of his neighborhood - and much, much more. Companies use these data to gauge the effectiveness of their marketing; and no doubt for other reasons as well. Does that bother you? Then don't use the phone, because it's perfectly legal and it's done all the time.

Related: The Wardrobe Door has begun a blog to thank Verizon, AT&T, and Bell South for speaking truth to the power of terrorism.

Also Related: USAToday cooks a poll showing Americans oppose the NSA program, 51-43. I guess they just chose the dates of the poll -- May 12-13 -- completely randomly.

Friday night and Saturday night, of course. Weekend polling-- a period which famously skews liberal in its sampling. And USAToday did not bother to inquire into the partisan or ideological leanings of its respondants (or at least they don't publish that information).

It's not like this was a snap-poll conducted the day after the news broke. They had a week and a half to do this poll. Are we supposed to believe they just picked Friday and Saturday nights out of a hat, when they had ample opportunity to pick any other weekday nights?

They really think you're stupid.

The Poll Makes No Sense Anyway: That's the conlcusion of Riehl World View, who was actually polled by USAToday.

Q 7 is another real peach over which I'm concerned.

7. If you knew that the federal government had your telephone records, how concerned would you be -- very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not concerned at all?

Very concerned 22%

Somewhat concerned 13%

Not too concerned 20%

Not concerned at all 44%

No opinion 1

Wait a minute! How can this be? We just learned that 51% disapprove of this program - that 52% feel it either may or does violate the law, perhaps even crushes our civil liberties - now it seems 65% couldn't care less, and only 22% even seem to care at all??

Contradictory results like this would seem to indicate the big number they're reporting -- 51% disapprove -- is just wrong. "Disapprove" would not to seem to be interpreted as USAToday would like you think it's being interpreted. Yes, they "disapprove," but they also don't seem to care.

Perhaps they disapprove of the need for the intrusion, and yet understand it's necessary.

USAToday also doesn't emphasize another finding --49% of the public (of adults, not voters, and mostly liberal adults at that) wants the media to stop reporting on the methods the government uses to track and stop terrorists.

Hey, if USAToday isn't going to heed the wise counsel of the American people, why should the NSA?

Correction: Thanks to Hubris.

USAToday hasn't had "a week and half" to do this poll. Jeeze, it sure felt like this was an old story (and, pretty much, it is), but in fact USAToday's big scoop came out just before Wednesday midnight.

So they didn't really have their choice of any weekday nights to do the poll.

But they sure could have done a poll Thursday night. Or Thursday/Friday night -- at least getting in one weekday night, rather than two weekend nights.

Or they could have done it Sunday-Monday.

I don't think they minded very much their poll was skewing liberal.

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posted by Ace at 12:43 PM

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