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Can Google Help Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack?

Updated on September 27, 2017
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

Data mining of private information seems to be the hottest thing. Companies like Google and Target and Facebook are creating a personal database to track everything we search and view and research and buy online. They do this in search of bigger profits but "pushing" ads to you that are relevant to your possible needs or wants. On the other hand, why can't these data be used to track potential criminal activities including terrorist acts?

-Jul. 2016

Background

We are all familiar with the way Google tracks our online activities. It seems every time I perform a search on Google, an ad pops up showing the items that I was looking at yesterday. It is uncanny how they do this. However, with computers and a database, it is not hard for any company, such as Google or Target that keeps tab on what you are searching and buying online.This way, they can build a "profile" on you the consumer and can guess at what you may want to buy in the near future. This begs the question, why can't they do the same with potential criminals? If someone is searching to buy guns or bomb making materials or chemicals or poisons or illegal drugs... wouldn't the police or FBI want to know that?

What does privacy come into play? Can we be spied on in this fashion? Are we the consumer, comfortable for any company doing this in pursuit of profits? Do we want to give up a little of our privacy for the general safety of all? All very good questions to ponder.

An Example of Google Data Mining Searches

I did a Google search on the LUCI lantern, a solar powered lamp for camping use made by MPOWERD company out of NYC. After a few moments, I went to my favorite news site the Drudge Report. The following screen is what came up...

Screen Shot of Drudge Report Home Page - July 5, 2016

Target Article...

Omar Mateen - Orlando Terrorist

Summary

If Google, Target, Facebook and other companies can easily track what you and I are doing online, why can't they track terrorists the same way? It seems it would be easy to do just that and forward any potential problems over to the FBI for follow up.

Is there a potential for violating our First Amendment rights here? Can some legal scholar look into this question?

What it comes down to is if they lack the will and not the know how. A dilemma for the Progressives.

© 2016 Jack Lee

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