A report on government data mining as a threat to personal privacy

The Constitution Project has released an integral report about government data mining. In such an advanced technological age where the sharing of information is as easy for everyday citizens as it is for government officials, this report outlines necessary guidelines for what kind of information can be obtained and how.

The report, called "Principles for Government Data Mining: Preserving Civil Liberties in the Information Age,"

...reflects the belief that effective data mining reform requires a commitment to the rule of law and respect for constitutional rights. This publication contains three parts. The first is a discussion of what data mining is, what its purposes are, and the current legal status of data mining. The second part outlines broad principles that should inform future government regulation of data mining. The final part makes specific recommendations to the government to reform data mining and ensure that such programs can both be effective and at the same time protect individual constitutional rights. In particular, the recommendations cover the need for transparency and notice; accountability, oversight, and redress; and data integrity and security when the government is conducting data mining operations.

The Constitution Project also held a panel featuring Christopher Caine, President & CEO of Mercator XXI, Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at The Cato Institute, and Paul Pillar, Visiting Professor and Director of Studies for the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. They discussed the effectiveness of data mining and how such staggering amounts of information is processed to an audience of chief privacy officers from several government agencies, congressional staff and media.

Panelist Opening Remarks Part 1
Panelist Opening Remarks Part 2
Panelist Opening Remarks Part 3

There is also an interesting debate over whether data mining is an effective counter-terror tool.

Panelist Debate Part 1
Panelist Debate Part 2
Panelist Debate Part 3

The report is a much needed tool for reforming government practices in information sharing and collecting. Little is known about current government data mining processes, indicating a clear exigency for oversight and accountability.

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