Your tax dollars at work

Here on FISpace we have talked about social networking and it’s potential to enhance the effectiveness of working with our constituents. One idea that’s gotten some attention is "social network analysis." It’s not a new idea but computer databases and processing power are making  identifying who relates to whom a tool of interest for the social components of our mission.

So who else is interested in social network analysis? Well, in a MIT Review article today speculates that NSA is the 900 pound gorilla of that technique. It may be the basic thing that NSA is doing with those billions of phone records.

Social network analysis has gained prominence in business and intelligence
circles under the belief that it can yield extraordinary insights, such as the
fact that people in disparate organizations have common acquaintances. Companies
can buy social networking software to help determine who has the best
connections for a particular sales pitch.

So it did not surprise many security analysts to learn Thursday from USA
Today newspaper that the National Security Agency is applying the technology to
billions of phone records.

”Who you’re talking to often matters much more than what you’re saying,”
said Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and author of ”Beyond Fear:
Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World.”

Hmm. Isn’t that one of the goals of CRM systems like Siebel? So here’s my thought: Why don’t we outsource all our own social network questions to NSA? It’s expensive to do that data collection and analysis. Why not just call up NSA, tell them the parameters of the network we’re looking for, and request a printout? No use duplicating what our taxpayer dollars are doing. 😉