Saturday, October 14, 2006

Your "club card" use may cause the GOP to call you at home -or- Your life in the Matrix

Ok, I know having a credit card abdicates a certain amount of fiscal privacy, as do using the "club cards" now almost necessary at every chain grocery store in America. All our purchase information is collected and put into massive databases, which are then sold to whomever is willing to pay. But do you have any idea how that information is being used and by whom, and for what ends??

According to, the Republican party has had problems in the past getting their voters our on election day
So, Republicans built a massive database of voters.

They compiled information about individuals that is available in public records and in consumer data that the GOP buys from vendors. Voter profiles contain everything from a person's age, address and voting frequency to their magazine subscriptions, preferred drinks and vehicles owned.

With an expansive voter file, Republicans then can use computer modeling to parse out individual voters in Democratic precincts whose consumer habits indicate they may lean toward the GOP. Republicans then can tailor messages to them based on their lifestyle habits and voting behaviors, and personally reach out to each of them to vote.

A final push comes just before an election, when volunteers with detailed voter lists make phone calls, knock on doors and send mail to encourage people to turn out - specifically those identified as most likely to side with Republicans but also most likely to stay home.
This may be unsettling to some, but fairly benign use of personal information. But consider the TIA (Total Information Awareness) Project, sponsored and overseen by DARPA. (also see here, here, and here)

Technology Review stated
Whether the specific technologies developed under TIA and acquired by ARDA have actually been used in the NSA's domestic surveillance programs -- rather than only for intelligence gathering overseas -- has not been proved. Still, descriptions of the two former TIA programs that became Topsail and Basketball mirror descriptions of ARDA and NSA technologies for analyzing vast streams of telephone and e-mail communications. Furthermore, one project manager active in the TIA program before it was terminated has gone on record to the effect that, while TIA was still funded, its researchers communicated regularly and maintained "good coordination" with their ARDA counterparts.

It's this latter fact that is most to the point. Whether or not those specific TIA technologies were deployed for domestic U.S. surveillance, technologies very much like them were. In 2002, for instance, ARDA awarded $64 million in research contracts for a new program called Novel Intelligence from Massive Data. Furthermore, overall, a 2004 survey by the U.S. General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, found federal agencies operating or developing 199 data mining projects, with more than 120 programs designed to collect and analyze large amounts of personal data on individuals to predict their behavior. Since the accounting office excluded most of the classified projects, the actual numbers would likely have been far higher.

Notice on slide 18 of the DARPA TIA presentation, it calls attention to 4 barriers that must be overcome to fully implement the project.
Ulltimate success requires a coevolution of:
- Techmology
- Process/Operations
- Policy
- Culture

The culture must be changed in order to capture this data easily. ATM cards, credit cards, store cards all contribute to our profile. Society has accepted all of these volutary disclosure in the name of convience.

When will people wake up and stop handing out personal information or at least publicly (and privately) disavow this encroachment on our liberties? Freedom from tyranny requires constant vigilance and effort to counter the government's inexorable creep into our lives. We are not supposed to be living in a pure democracy but in a republic. We will have to make every effort to educate ourselves and others and live as example to those who are still enslaved, still asleep.

The point is - our information, the details of our lives are being greedily consumed and stored away for some future leverage if necessary. This is antithetical to the very premise of living a free life.


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