Law enforcement agencies all over the country are building a new information "dragnet" that will dramatically boost data-sharing, the Washington Post reports. This month the Justice Department will begin hooking up local and county police forces to the new federal National Data Exchange, creating a "one-stop-shop" that will let investigators search millions of records in seconds and make previously unsuspected connections.
Cops say new data-mining systems are turning disjointed law enforcement searches into the high-tech wizardry seen on TV and in films. "It's going from the horse-and-buggy days to the space age, that's what it's like," said an Arizona police chief. Privacy groups, however, fear intelligence agencies will misuse the vast amounts of information soon to be at their fingertips.