Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Fast Feed

U.S. Government Launches Massive Surveillance Database

A recently discovered initiative by the National Counterterrorism Center will search millions of America's government files for criminal wrongdoing—even if they aren't under investigation.

The U.S. government has quietly launched a massive master database on American citizens, most of whom have no criminal records. According to the Wall Street Journal's Julia Angwin, a little-known government organization called the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has begun to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible wrongdoing. Angwin claims the NCTC is searching disparate government databases for proof of possible criminal behavior by ordinary citizens, even if they are not suspected in any crimes. Despite the NCTC's name, the organization is searching for proof of ordinary crimes, as well as terrorism.

Lists being parsed by the NCTC include flight records, casino employee lists, and the names of Americans hosting foreign exchange students. All-seeing government databases are becoming an increasingly common part of everyday life; in recent months, New York's police department created a massive citywide surveillance system and the FBI announced a billion-dollar biometric database.

[Image: Flickr user Colin Dunn]