Big Brother alert: A data-mining system set up by the FBI ostensibly to catch terrorists is quickly growing into a database that tracks the comings and goings of ordinary citizens. The database has tens of thousands of records from private corporations, including some Wyndham hotel reservations, Avis car rentals, and even Sears credit card transactions, according to declassified documents obtained by Wired. The agency has requested access to more sources, including the change-of-address database and Social Security numbers.
“We have a situation where the government is spending fairly large sums of money to use an unproven technology that has a possibility of false positives that would subject innocent Americans to unnecessary scrutiny and impinge on their freedom,” says a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Before the (FBI) expands its mission, there must be strict oversight from Congress and the public.”