Saturday, March 28, 2015

Data Mining for Terrorists and Innocents

Dark Web is a program created by the students at University of Tucson. This program analyzes chat room conversations between potential terrorist threats. According to the video published by Germanjournal, this computer is capable of establishing levels of importance among chat forum users, how dangerous they are, and with whom they are in contact. Called a “right print,” Dark Web can distinguish characteristics of users, such as language or personality traits. This in turn creates a pattern, which helps identify people who could possibly be a leader of terrorist networks. Things such as violent or racist terms are keyed in on to characterize these chat room users.
I do believe that the Tucson data-mining project inappropriately violates the privacy of Internet users. However, the tradeoff to combat terrorism, in my opinion, is kind of worth it. Although the case of Professor Holm is an unfortunate one, which is worse—mistakenly accusing someone of terrorism or not catching a terrorist at all? There will be downfalls in every project, but for the safety of our communities, projects such as these are necessary.
Professor Andrej Holm’s punishments were very unwarranted. I do not believe the police were justified in their handling of him. With all of the intelligence there is out there, it is clear that Holm is not a dangerous person. In the video, he is seen outside walking with his wife and his baby. If there was so much surveillance of Holm, police should have better identified Holm as non-threatening. From his personality type and his demeanor, it seems pretty apparent that Holm is a peaceful man. As Holm described, he was thrown to the floor and subjected to officers with guns securing every area of his home. He was put into solitary confinement for three weeks. On the contrary, however, even though these conditions are harsh— what if Holm actually turned out to be a terrorist? Would these conditions be so harsh then?
When using the Web, we sacrifice our privacy. It’s just a fact and unfortunately there’s no way to avoid it. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are aware of what you search for online and slyly use that information to advertise relevant products to you on their sidebar. With all of this talk about the NSA, we know that somewhere all of our virtual data is being recorded and stored, with the potential to be used against us in some way, shape, or form. If you ask me, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you should try to just accept it and move on with your life. These personal interferences don’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Online surveillance software / data mining. (2008, February 21). Retrieved March 29, 2015, from