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May 16, 2006

Even If Just Phone Records

-- by Dave Johnson

So what if the NSA spying really IS just phone records? The answer is that analysis of the data these records offers, combined with other data, is an extremely powerful tool for learning where to apply pressure on social groups in order to influence society in ways you can only dream of. Please, please read Daily Kos: The dangers of Social Network Analysis.

I am familiar with Social Network Analysis, and this could be an extremely powerful political tool both for disrupting opposition and bolstering support. In short, it can tell you who the key connectors are. Once you know who they are, you don't need to spend much time on anyone else. You can take action and it can largely be "under the radar." From the simple,

High value nodes are identified as thought leaders for these social networks and the IRS point count to determine who gets audited is increased for these people. This will reduce the time these thought leaders have to devote to organizing resistance.
To the moderate,

Social network analysis shows which of these groups have the largest number of connections with swing voters and these groups are targeted for highly publicized SEC investigations prior to the announcement of the initiative.
To direct and personal intervention,
Leaks of embarrassing information are making it into blogs. Network analysis indicates that the point of entry can be traced back to TPM Muckraker. An analysis of phone records then identifies that an administration staffer has made phone calls on his cell phone to his brother who has made phone calls to TPM.
Do I need to say what comes next for them?

This is a powerful, powerful tool for controlling people and society in ways that don't have to be noticed.

Those seeking to spin away the NSA database as not a threat to individual liberties could not be more wrong. The NSA database and Social Network Analysis in the wrong hands pose a greater threat to democracy and individual liberties than the misuse of personal information.

Watch your backs. And recommend this Kos diary so it gets the attention is deserves!

Update - Reply to a comment: Social Network Analysis is traffic analysis plus 50 years of advances in knowledge. Combine it with the "Tipping Point" -- connectors, mavens, etc. and other understanding of how groups get organized and ideas spread. Knock out the leaders of the opposition before they become top leaders. Disrupt the meeting before most of them know they are going to have a meeting. Stop the union from forming by getting the likely organizer into another job - or jail...

Sort of sounds like what happened to the Democrats and Progressives, actually.

And NOW there is reason to fear that the government's resources could be used to apply these techniques to maintaining The Party in political power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at May 16, 2006 9:04 AM

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Comments

Before all the geewhiz, postmodern stuff (social networks), this used to be called "traffic analysis". In WWII, major battles were won based on astute traffic analysis. Knowing who talks to whom, how often and with what volume is enormously useful information.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2006 11:19 AM

OK, I guess we'll have to stop doing all this stuff by phone. What's next, smoke signals? I'm not kidding -- I hardly ever use my phone any more anyway. But I use e-mail, which is probably every bit as likely to get picked up. Since most of my plotting and scheming and organizing happens to be local, though, we do an awful lot of it over coffee, or on the street, so until they start bugging us.....

I don't really feel like joking about all this, though. This is deadly serious and couldn't be more dangerous to any idea of democracy.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 16, 2006 12:01 PM

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