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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Social network analysis tools — an aid to govt spooks?

The United States and its people have been in a bit of a panic recently as citizens discovered that the National Security Agency has been monitoring emails, phone calls, and other high tech data. The concerns aroused by this revelation have sparked discussion in countries worldwide about high-end data mining.

Narus is one of the several companies accused of being involved in the NSA's procedures. They sell surveillance and mining equipment and have been linked to NSA officers that worked with AT&T. Although the company's vice president would not comment specifically on the work with NSA, he did admit that the software is capable of going through large amounts of data.

One of the primary problems with this type of software is that after a company sells it they have no idea how the customers use it. Steven Bannerman, vice president of marketing at Narus, admits, "Once we sell the product to customers, there’s no mechanism in the software to check whether or not they are using the warrant management system."

The NSA also refuses to comment due to the sensitive nature of their dealings. Some analysts, though, did say that the types of records the government often uses aren't helpful for anything more than the most basic social analysis.

Learn more about this issue in the full article (link above).

Posted by Computer Consulting Kit