Mr. Leahy warned that the potential for abuse requires oversight. "A mistake can cost Americans their jobs and wreak havoc in their lives and reputations that can take years to repair," he said.
This is why the Constitution clearly states the Federal Government can't do it.
Former Rep. Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican who recently became an activist for the Libertarian Party, told the panel that data mining poses a "serious threat" to the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution.There is no exception for 'National Security' in the Constitution.
"That is nearly half of the Bill of Rights," he said.
"Adding insult to injury, there is no scientific proof that data mining to identify terrorists even works. No scientist has ever demonstrated that the government can predict who will commit an act of terror at some future time. Yet the government spends tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars on data-mining programs each year -- collecting, manipulating, retaining and disseminating the most personal and private information on unknowing American citizens and others," Mr. Barr said.
James Jay Carafano, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, defended the practice of data mining but agreed oversight is needed.
"The federal government's use of data-mining technology should be strictly limited to national security-related investigations," Mr. Carafano said. "Congress should also require agencies to report on their intent to establish data-mining programs and require annual reports on their implementation, as well as their compliance with federal guidelines."