Web Traffic And The Individual 's Footprint Online

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Understanding and utilizing big data, such as the kind gathered en masse from social media and internet browsing searches can be a useful tool to combat terrorism domestically and abroad. It allows for connecting the dots of an individual’s online footprint to potentially identify terrorists before they strike. However, privacy advocates and private citizens are concerned that the growing scope of data collection and analytics by the government could lead to abuse, profiling, criminalization of behavior, or restrictions of freedoms. While these are valid concerns, they are unfounded and must be balanced against the very real need to combat terrorism. Web traffic and the individual’s footprint online are inarguably public knowledge, if one simply knows how to look. Much like a person can be observed leaving their home and visiting a public establishment, so too can their online traffic be observed without invasive measures that one might consider an unreasonable breach of any private thought or space.
In the case of the San Bernardino shooting late last year, the L.A. Times reported, December 14th, 2015, shooter Tashfeen Malik used online social media to express Islamic jihadist support and a desire to engage in terrorist acts on at least two occasions, once in 2012 and again in 2014. Shortly after the last message she was allowed passage into the U.S. through a fiance’ visa.
The irony here is that in an article from Time Magazine, December 28th, 2015, it was noted that

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