Federal agencies and departments reported having 199 ongoing
or planned data mining efforts, something both the government
and private sector increasingly use to uncover hidden
patterns and subtle relationships in data, the General
Accounting Office has said in a report that could signal a
call for new regulations on the way agencies exchange
Federal agencies use data mining for a number of reasons
such as statistical analysis, modeling, analyzing scientific
and research information and managing human resources, for a
variety of purposes such as improving service or performance,
detecting fraud, waste, abuse, and criminal behavior, and
analyzing and detecting terrorist patterns and activities.
GAO said 122 of those data mining efforts continue to mine
personal information such as credit card numbers, educational
loan records and Social Security numbers.
It said 52 agencies use or plan to use data mining, 54 of the
199 efforts mine data from the private sector, 36 of those
mine personal information, 77 efforts are in place to mine
data from other federal agencies and 46 of those involve
personal information, showing that government data mining of
personal information continued to grow long after the high
profile Total Information Awareness Project was discontinued
amid criticism and privacy concerns.
“We do not know the quality and accuracy of the information,
whether individuals have access to the information to correct
inaccuracies, and whether individuals gave consent for their
private information to be shared with the federal government.
There must be policies and safeguards in place to ensure
that the privacy rights of Americans are not being eroded,”
said Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), who requested the
report, also noting the multiplicity reasons and methods of