US Government Admits: Data Mining For Terrorists Doesn't Work
from the oops dept
Over the last few years, you probably have noticed multiple attempts by state and federal government agencies to collect more data on people and to share that data more widely. This is troubling for a variety of reasons, often having to do with privacy and questions concerning the quality of data, but those concerns are almost always pushed aside by claims that this data is necessary for fighting terrorism. There’s this myth out there that if we just had more data, somehow we’d be able to stop terrorists. The problem is that this is untrue. More data often makes it even harder to find the important data, and now a detailed government report has basically confirmed that data mining doesn’t help in finding terrorists.
The report was put together by a bunch of well-respected academics, industry insiders and law enforcement officials on behalf of the National Research Council, and finds that the idea of plugging all this data into a machine and popping out terrorist identities is a myth. The report then lists out a variety of recommendations, concerning the use of any data mining systems, and how to make sure that individual privacy is protected. One key finding that will never be implemented: when using any such system, systematic reviews should be done to see if the systems are actually effective. If there’s one thing we’ve seen with government programs over the years, such attempts to actually review something they’ve put in place to see if it actually worked are almost never done.