DATA MINER SAYS NO TO CAPPS II

If you've been screened for a new job, hassled by a telemarketer, or asked to fill out an insurance claim, chances are the data aggregation company ChoicePoint had something to do with it. So the firm isn't exactly shy about collecting lots of information about lots of people.But even for this notoriously invasive company thinks the Homeland Security Department is going too far in its attempts to snoop on airline passengers.ChoicePoint has dropped out of CAPPS II, the government's controversial passenger-screening program, according to GovExec.com. What's more, the company's CEO threw cold water on the whole idea that the feds could find potential terrorists in the data trails of ordinary people.

Smith said CAPPS II is too much like the Terrorism Information Awareness program once proposed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to mine commercial data because CAPPS II attempts to ferret out data about 280 million individual Americans.Smith termed that approach "probabilistic theory" and said law enforcement and private businesses seeking to verify individuals' identities should instead take advantage of "link analysis." The latter approach concentrates first on suspected terrorists and seeks information about anyone who might be connected to them."Today, we are looking for small groups of people, or needles in a haystack," he said. "The last thing you want to do is put more hay on the haystacks."
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