DOJ Signs New Rules To Let Intelligence Officials Access, Store And Search More Info About US Citizens

from the shockingly-unshocking dept

Remember earlier this week when the NSA’s boss Keith Alexander tried to shoot down reports that it was storing and datamining all sorts of communications info about Americans (despite a mandate that says the NSA can’t spy on Americans?). Yeah. So then there’s this news:

The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may access, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, which was created in 2004 to foster intelligence sharing and to serve as a clearinghouse for terrorism threats.

The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the center’s ability to retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data-mining them” — using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat — than it currently does.

What’s amazing is that these people still believe having access to so much info makes it easier to spot important data points, rather than hiding them deeper in the haystack. Having so much data is often useful in post hoc analysis, letting them go back and figure out who to blame, but there’s little to suggest such widespread spying on Americans will be all that useful in actually preventing attacks.

Even if there are legitimate reasons for doing this, the idea that the data won’t be widely abused is laughable:

They also said they had built safeguards into the system in to protect against misuse of the data, including audits to make sure that searches by government officials of the growing center-held databases would be done only for legitimate terrorism-related purposes.

Of course, we’ve seen how similar audits have worked in the past, where the DOJ has been regularly dinged for abusing such rights… and then nothing happens. The audits show wrongdoing, intelligence officials pinky swear that they won’t do it again, and then they go right back to abusing the info.

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Comments on “DOJ Signs New Rules To Let Intelligence Officials Access, Store And Search More Info About US Citizens”

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gorehound (profile) says:

More Control

More Control of our lives.Seems every week there is some new Bullshit this Government is pulling over on all of us.
One of these days they will push us to far and that will be that.I for one really dislike both the GOP & Democrats.
Wish we could just Vote in a totally new Party that could motivate all the youth over 18 to actually Vote and Vote these old pricks out.

howtheheck says:

Re: More Control

Haha, yeah sure, they’ll push us so far that our thoughts and data will be stored into a computer, they’ll have the right to spy on us and indefinately hold us with no reason… Too far? Ha that’s a joke. 90% of people don’t even know what’s goin on and the government censoring the media means that they never will. If you think that a revolution will happen, you’re kidding yourself. These people in this world have such ignorance to what our own government is doing, that its offensive. Stupidity and lies are the majority of what goes on here and until the people who oppose the government are shut down, and our rights are gone, will the rest of the oblivious realize something isn’t right.

Anonymous Coward says:

See, this is the kind of thing that is VERY important and where we should be making inquest into stopping. Keeping tabs on our own countrymen, I say this as an American citizen. And I don’t mean “let’s keep tabs on everyone and hold that data for 5 years”. I am against that completely. I think 180 days is too much already, or just spying on everyone in general.

This is something we need to focus on. But, the usual AC trolls though will have you believe that the world will crumble if we don’t start monitoring everyone online and storing all that data to make sure none of them are pirating this or that. For some reason, once content has been pirated even once… that spells it’s demise and will certainly mean the end of an industry… 10 years later, the music industry is still around… 30+ years later the VCR did not kill the movie industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

AAAAAAAAAGH. Orwell wasn’t a profit. He was writing about events at the time. Jesus. Sorry, this annoys me more than just about anything else…ok, maybe the misreading of “The Road Not Taken” annoys me more.

We have always been at war with Eurasia was an allusion to the sudden switch between being allies with Russia and then locked in the bitter Cold War without anyone batting an eye.

The idea of informing on each other was in propaganda from Orwell’s time.

It was written as a social critique of the time, and wasn’t prophetic at all! We were already in the police state he described at the time, hence why the title 1984 was a play on 1948 (the book was written then, and published in 1949).

The Ministries mentioned was a play on the Ministry of Defense which was just the War Room revised with a nicer name! It was all social commentary of the…aashfasha sgqhqg hweg h g

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I am all for this, provided that all data collected on elected officials be made public.
Total transparency of their lives should be required, they are seeking that sort of access into our lives.
I think we deserve to know all of the details they can farm up on them.
They do work for us, and we need access to this data to evaluate their work.
If it is good enough for the American people, our leaders should set an amazing example for all of us to follow.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They do work for us”


By the people for the people?

A fantasy. A great idea long ago, but no where to be seen in present day America.

I have been watching the gov tighten the noose at an accelerated rate since 9/11. It does not appear they are going to stop any time soon. Like most animals, and we are animals, when pushed into a corner, will lash out. Then it will really be over.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually if we don’t vote for them, they loose some power over us.

It is not going to stop until we stop what appears to be a national drive towards fascism. Our problems are from the people not like us, who are against the great values we all should have, etc etc etc.

I find it amazing you can get thousands of people to turn out to make sure a woman has no control over her uterus, but more of them will vote for American Idol instead of President.

With any luck they will elected the less evangelical than thou as the next group of “others” to blame societies ills on and it might become a wakeup call.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Why keep data?

I thought the FBI and other gov agencies liked to just make up and fabricate their own plots to foil when they need to look good. So why do they need data to store?

My best guess is that this is just so if you ever do something they don’t like, they will have a lot more data to try to hang you with as some excuse. Our goverment does seem to be rather vindictive against people they don’t like for any given reason.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Elected officials are only half the problem

“Actually if we don’t vote for them, they loose some power over us.”

The government is staffed by people who got their jobs in various ways-but they weren’t elected. That is why it is nearly impossible at times to stop this drive toward a totalitarian state.

As for the headline, the present administration is merely a copy of the old one-different party, same old shit.

We can fight back any way we can-but remember, the government has more guns, and lots of prisons.

Time to start packing for another country, I fear-if there was one that was any better. Is there one that has not gone this bad?

I really don’t know the answer to that.

DoN0tReply (profile) says:

I’m curious as to what repercussions this has for people accessing sites stateside (remember the .com TLD counts as being hosted within the US regardless of physical location of the website servers etc.) from beyond the US.

Does this mean I am recorded every time I (as a citizen in a foreign country) access a website within US cyberspace regardless (legally not IMO, however I wouldn’t be surprised if I was being recorded as I type this post)?

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