You are a wise "old soul," Diane Ravitch. Many people only see what is right before their eyes. They lack the intuition to recognize the applications of today's data streams and the rationale behind this form of group-psychological plumbing.
Today's article by Glenn Greenwald explains that military intelligence has bored itself into on-line chat rooms in order to ensure conformity to specific memes, official narratives, and related talking points.
Individuals possessed of clout--like Cass Sunstein--have published academic papers that describe those who question government authority--as individuals possessed of psychological disorders, defects, and impairments. This is pretty much the former recipe used in Soviet Russia to lock up political dissidents.
Although there are profit-oriented applications that can be mined from this data, I think a lot is based on tracking "radicals" before they have a chance to amass a rebellious following.
It was not until Clinton was elected President that his dossier was discussed. People don't know how to think backwards; and by that I mean, before Clinton had any political status, and was still a college student, what made him enough of a person of interest to warrant that level of data-collecting?
Between McCarthy's witch hunts (and all the careers of writers, poets, academics destroyed) and the Church Committee's findings and rulings, this nation's right wing thugs had (and still have) a history of trampling over the lives, rights, and livelihoods of those who are smarter than they are, hold a far more egalitarian vision for human beings; and abide by philosophies that are not respectful towards top-down, father-knows-best, military-like hierarchical government institutions.
Thank you for sharing this latest offense of the new Fourth Reich.