The problem here is bigger than De Vries, Barr, HBGary, Anonymous or even WikiLeaks. It’s about what happens when you mine data from different sources, employ dubious assumptions, and leap to erroneous conclusions. It’s too easy to get the wrong guy. And if you think this doesn’t happen, ask Khaled Masri, a German citizen who was ‘rendered’ to Afghanistan by the CIA in 2003 and tortured for five months, based on a case of mistaken identity. Or Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield, who was wrongly arrested for bombing a train in Madrid in 2004 and only got sprung because the Spanish police did their homework and found the actual bomber.
If you believe the NSA isn’t mining data to locate terrorist threats before they strike, you just haven’t been paying attention. If you fit the wrong profile or hit the wrong data points, you could be an innocent victim, like Masri, Mayfield, or de Vries. Let’s just hope they’re better at data mining than Aaron Barr is.
ITworld TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan is also not Commander X (in case you were wondering). Experience his juvenile sense of humor at eSarcasm (Geek Humor Gone Wild) or follow him on Twitter:@tynan_on_tech.