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Waffles = terrorism?

The FBI might not be able to figure out that people who train at flight schools and associate with known terrorists are worth watching, but they've come up with another way to "connect the dots." Okay, so they may not be useful dots, but Foxnews is reporting that the FBI has collected data from supermarkets as part of its intelligence-gathering process:

According to one privacy expert, at least one national grocery chain voluntarily handed over to the government records from its customer loyalty card database in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
And apparently, other companies in other industries did the same.

American law, unlike European law, generally treats this information as property of the vendor rather than the consumer, which means that unless the company has contractually agreed not to divulge the information, it is free to do so. (And of course, law enforcement can subpoena the information, but that's a little more work than just asking for it.) While certain information -- travel or financial records, for instance -- could clearly be useful for law enforcement purposes, I can't even begin to conceive of what uses they would have for grocery records. Stopping Al Qaeda surely wouldn't be one of those uses.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 31, 2002 10:39 PM.

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