Paranoids and Conspiracy Theorists, start your engines! The government has been increasingly turning to private companies for information that is either difficult or illegal for them to obtain in other ways. Many private companies share information freely with the government without any sort of subpoena or other legal requirement. In addition, data aggregation companies have been amassing tremendous databases of all available forms of information and provide data mining services for a fee. The government is one of their customers and is not restricted in any way from using the information it obtains. I’m generally not especially disturbed by the notion that there are ways to obtain highly detailed information about a person, but I do think it’s important to try to keep a mental picture of what information may be available and how it may be used.