Can Someone Make Sure The FBI's New Multimillion Computer System Connects To Google?

from the just-a-request dept

The FBI's computer problems have been well documented. They've spent hundreds of millions of dollars on computer systems that didn't actually work and had to be scrapped. Apparently, many things are still done via the old paper methods. Thus, it should come as no surprise that folks at the FBI wouldn't even think to try to use Google when doing some research. In this case, someone had made a Freedom of Information Act request for the recording of a tape made in an investigation over 25 years ago. The FBI turned down the request, using an exemption concerning violating the privacy of people -- which is only supposed to apply to people who are alive. The FBI claimed they could not determine if the people on the tape were alive, because neither participant stated their birth date or social security number on the tape. Hence, case closed, the FBI had no clue if they were dead or alive, and therefore the tapes could not be released. An appeals court has ruled that (not surprisingly) this suggested that the FBI had not taken "reasonable steps" to determine the living status of the people involved, even noting: "Why, in short, doesn't the FBI just Google the two names? Surely, in the Internet age, a 'reasonable alternative' for finding out whether a prominent person is dead is to use Google (or any other search engine), to find a report of that person's death." Obviously, that might not be enough -- but it does seem clear that the FBI could have done much more. So, just a small suggestion for the team now spending $500 million of taxpayer money on a new FBI computer system: make sure it at least alerts FBI agents to this thing called "the internet."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 1:26pm

    talk about inept... enough said

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Keepleft, 13 Sep 2006 @ 1:37pm

    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." - Robert J. Hanlon

    "However....."

    In this case I lean more toward believing that the FBI was simply looking for any lame excuse they could to avoid complying with a request for information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matt Bennett, 13 Sep 2006 @ 1:52pm

    Two points:

    A) Yes, I agree, this was probably an excuse because the FBI just didn't want to hand it over.

    B) You can google my name FOREVER and you'll never find me. I'll even help, my full name is Matthew Michael Bennett. Doesn't help, there are like 10,000 of us, at least.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tim Feathers, 13 Sep 2006 @ 1:57pm

    Google used as a verb by the Court

    The thing I find most interesting about this is that "google" is showing up in court opinions used as a verb, continuing the process of the genericide of google.

    see: Google Acts to Prevent Genericide:

    http://www.techknowledgyblog.squarespace.com/techknowledgy-blog/2006/8/14/google-acts -to-prevent-genericide.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Exodus, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:19pm

    *o*

    His name IS impossible to find!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hoeppner, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:23pm

    theres two of me :) not sure about the middle name. well that show up on the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nigerian Finance Minister (profile), 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:27pm

    MMB

    I found 73 entries for Matthew Michael Bennett in Google. Michael, please give me your Social Security Number, street address, and date of birth so I can verify which entry is yours. Thank you

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NoOne, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:28pm

    Matthew Michael Bennett, Newport, R.I., and Billie Ann Ramsey, Magnolia.

    Marriage

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:31pm

    Heck just give me the city and state you live in and year of birth, and I'll bet I can find you on zabba search.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Babs, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:31pm

    I think the FBI policy is always deny all requests for info. Only comply if sued, and a court ok's. In which case, they claim they don't know or don't have it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    charlie potatoes, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:33pm

    informing the FBI

    I think one of the Senators should call the FBI and tell them...the internet is just a series of tubes...it's not a truck, and you can't load anything on it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    faekinnit, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Google is not the be all and end all to searching the internet. Just like a computer, it spits out only what's put into it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 2:51pm

    The FBI does use Google

    I once opened the door to be greeted by an FBI agent with a summoses to testify in Texas. Problem was, I knew nothing of what he was referring too. It turns out an agent in Texas had Googled my name and confused me with someone else with the same name.

    This was around three years ago, I assume they are still doing this and I found this quite troubling as Google is NOT a completely reliable source of information. Had they done a little more research, it would have been blantly clear that they had the wrong person. Luckly it was not an arrest warrant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 3:04pm

    Not RI, but close.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 3:08pm

    Must be nice to have everyone elses money to waste.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Monarch, 13 Sep 2006 @ 3:39pm

    Ok, Mr. Bennet,
    Tell me your birth year and the state you live in, and I'll bet I can give you your current or most recent address, and I'll get it off the internet in a free search engine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2006 @ 3:52pm

    Oh christ, its a challenge now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    charlie potatoes, 13 Sep 2006 @ 4:52pm

    I'm going to need his paypal password.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 13 Sep 2006 @ 6:33pm

    The answer is simple

    The person on the tape was Jimmy Hoffa. Even if they Google'd him, 777,000 articles can neither confirm or deny his state of life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tyshaun, 13 Sep 2006 @ 7:19pm

    Erroneous information on internet.

    I was just wondering why the judge would suggest the FBI resort to googling for information like that. I would assume that the FBI would have access to much more accurate databases for stuff like that (for instance the IRS, Social Security bureau, NCIC, etc). I understand that "googling" is the latest greatest verb but I hope the FBI is smart enough not to trust something just because it pops up in a google search, especially dealing with releasing potentially sensitive data.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ludwig hung, 14 Sep 2006 @ 8:53am

    Any additional work for FBI?

    Under the act, I understand that Govt is only required to disclose information already available on hand, if this wouldn't generate significant work that they otherwise would't need to perform.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Xenohacker, 14 Sep 2006 @ 10:10am

    The Government Should Fear Its People...

    The people should not fear their government the government should fear its people... I heard that on a movie... Frankly, I am quite afraid of how the government spends money... 500 dollars for a hammer huh? Yeah right... I wish someone would go around to every state in the union picking off 'SO CALLED' civil servants one-by-one like the rats they are... Fact let me know if your serious... I got a MA403 Sniper rifle with a night vision scope, digital distance meter, and a silencer... just go get the rounds... and your set... :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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