Wall Street Journal Article: “U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens” by Julia Angwin

Debate within the Obama administration over the scope and reach of U.S. counterterrorism agency results in rules that “allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them,” writes Angwin.

This is a disturbing expansion of the practices enacted under the 2001 “Patriot Act.”  For me, it recalls the 2002 sci-fy thriller “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise, in which a government agency is granted authority to arrest citizens for crimes that they may commit at some time in the future (as predicted by three “pre-cogs” with prescient powers).

Obviously the movie was fictional while this is reality, but it came to mind as I read this article reporting on new rules allowing the government “to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior.”

One begins to worry that “suspicious patterns of behavior” will be found in personal data that is overly scrutinized even when no criminal activity of any kind is present, leading to criminal/conspiracy theory boards a la “A Beautiful Mind” or “Homeland.”

The full-text of Angwin’s article is available here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324478304578171623040640006.html

A briefer blog post about the changes is available here: http://blogs.wsj.com/wsjam/2012/12/13/poll-thoughtcrime-they-called-it/


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