Data Mining



As we saw in the video "We Know Where You Are" earlier in the semester and in our studies of the impact of the computer on society, there are numerous examples today of activities that would not be possible without the aid of the computer. The technique of data mining is one such advance in technology that has allowed users to garner data from disparate sources and to coalesce data into information that did not exist in single resources. Thus an individual having given information to different data bases believing that the data in each is innocuous, now finds that the assemblage of that data provides a portrait that is invading his/her privacy.


Write a 2000 word report on data mining, its potential as a positive tool in the management of data and the assimilation of information, and the dangers of its misuse. The audience for the report should be non-technical but somewhat computer literate. Your report should include, but not be limited to, coverage the following questions:
  1. Examine the relevant laws with respect to computer privacy and determine whether the use of data mining violates those laws.
  2. Besides privacy laws what other controlling mechanisms exist?
  3. What are the special problems of ethics and conduct that are potentially associated with using data mining as a tool?
  4. Does the use of data mining by telemarketing agents violate the code of conduct of computer professionals?
  5. Is there a difference between the codes to be followed by telemarketers and the programmers who develop the data mining tools for them?
  6. Should data mining be controlled by the government in a manner similar the way in which there are plans for controlling encryption?
  7. If your manager asked you to undertake the development of a data mining application that (say) collected data from the various files that existed in the company to create profiles of your fellow workers, how would you respond? How would you justify your position?


A draft outline must be submitted for review on 22 March 1999, and will be returned with comments on 29 March 1999. The Due Date for the completed work is 12 April 1999.


  1. The original marked-up draft outline.
  2. An HTML formatted report (possibly with multiple pages and appropriate links) stored on an IBM formatted diskette. The entry page should be named according to the syntax: .htm[l]
  3. Your journal and diary for this assignment.


Last updated 99/01/25
© J.A.N. Lee, 1999.