NSA Does Market Research?
We Lefties used to be so much better at sussing out government conspiracy theories. Perhaps all the fatigue-wearing, “black helicopter” crowd out of Idaho and such places have tainted the idea for us and we have subsequently curtailed our imaginations. Back in 2002 we all knew W was headed for Baghdad to get his hands on all the oil. But we failed to look far enough down the line. Rather than snatching up all that black gold so that it could run freely in the States granting even more profits to the oil companies, his oil baron friends figured that they could make even more money by controlling the spigot, driving prices up by tightening the supply. We should have seen that one coming.
Now we’re all a twitter over unwarranted surveillance of citizens and, most recently, the collection of billions of records of our phone calls into a “data mine”. The right-wingers try to placate us with “there’s no ‘wire taps’, it’s just a noting of who called whom and when”. True enough but hardly assuring. Even without an exact transcript of each conversation, call patterns tell an awful lot about each of us. Phone records are generally one of the primary sources of evidence in most white-collar crimes because they reveal so much about the individual. Imagine what one could learn about folks who require a certain level of privacy to do their jobs such as reporters and law enforcement officials. And what do the hand-wringing lefties see as waiting just over the horizon? Smear campaigns against political opponents and their donors. Eh, it’s possible but I see that as short-sighted and heavy-handed. In other words, I think the Left is missing the bigger picture yet again.
While data mining is a decent tool for investigation what it really supports best is marketing and management. Data mining is used to track and understand the behavior of related individuals. Once you understand and can measure something, you can effectively manage it. Behaviors are managed either by law enforcement or by marketing. Sure, a database of phone records could be used nefariously against a political opponent or nosy investigator. But a far more profitable application would be in measuring and managing any and all of the government’s marketing campaigns. Are people calling their kids more? Are they contacting their legislators? Their clergy? Has the chatter picked up amongst politically active people? What connections between groups are formed and/or broken? Essentially, what is the best way to spread a meme?
And what about the Internet? Yes, Congress is turning its beady little eyes just who is on the information superhighway and what exits do they take. As we cede our rights in the original cyberspace of phone conversations, we weaken our ability to stand for our rights on the ‘Net. We need to start banging on the doors of the Home of the Brave to stand up and stop this nonsense or we’ll no longer be the Land of the Free.