Data retention: better live alone

by Andy Oram

Most young people nowadays can't afford their own apartments, even if they have jobs. Roommates are the order of the day in all the major cities I know about. But be careful--if you "once shared a phone number or residence with a known terrorist," according to the most recent InformationWeek (June 5, 2006, p. 26) you could become a target for a government investigation.

InformationWeek is reporting here on a data mining system offered by Systems Research Development, which was partly funded by the CIA, was recently acquired by IBM, and is used by unmentioned government agencies. The features discussed in the short article look like pretty simple database matches.

Given that many people arrested for terrorism are later released, it's unclear how dangerous any one "known terrorist" really is. And if the police don't know, you certainly won't know when you shack up with one. I wonder whether the SRD system also checks for a shared IP address--you'd better look into who's sharing your connection point to you Internet Service Provider!