EFF and Human Rights Watch force DEA to destroy its mass surveillance database

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The DEA & The Grinch have a few things in common.


While it’s possible to make a non-searchable PDF, claiming that just because a document is stored as PDF it’s non-searchable is distinctly false. (Try typing Control-F the next time you’re using Adobe Reader.)

Most PDF documents are either packaged text or Microsoft Word documents, which are easily searchable, or else packaging of image files from scans of documents, which are less convenient but still quite practical to feed to an OCR - the physical work of scanning the document’s already been done, and the document was probably originally printed by a computer printer so it’s going to be much more accurate than OCRing handwritten text which is much more difficult.

If the DEA is saying that certain documents shouldn’t be destroyed, because they’re only in PDF form and therefore aren’t computer-searchable, they’re being dishonest. If they’re saying that they don’t have the documents in more convenient form for the EFF’s or court’s auditors to use, that might be true (it’d be stupid, but bureaucracies do stupid stuff all the time. It might also not be true.)


Especially stupid since Google search indexes millions of PDFs.


Yeah baby, of course I deleted those private photos… No, I don’t have any other copies… You can believe me…


PDF text occring (to verb a noun) is relatively recent. You’d not expect something from even last century to have actually gone through that process. Sure, if you loaded it up now, you could probably pick out some text, but a bunch of PDFs scanned from (say) the 1980s and which haven’t been looked at since …

Which isn’t to say that ‘they’ wouldn’t use this argument as plausible denialistry.


Even the secret ones?


They should have burned that database in a bonfire (symbolic, of course) to give the DEA a taste of their own medicine.


How can we trust these lying scum to comply?

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if they have a bulk collection program, and we find out about it, we’re going to challenge it in the courts

Governmental response: New tactic - don’t let them find out about it.

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Note that this was also part of by he old tactic


Now, now, in the end The Grinch found redemption.

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True, there is that…


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