[EAS]Latest Privacy Twist

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Thu Sep 25 08:20:00 EDT 2003

Subject:   Latest Privacy Twist

It's Sept. 2003. Do you know where your data is? It may be on the
computers of a private Florida company that has not even finalized a
policy on the use of the data and does not answer questions. --PJK

(from NewsScan Daily, 24 September 2003)

Remember the "Terrorism Information Awareness" database controversy?
That  project would have allowed the Pentagon to assemble a huge
collection of  information on all U.S. citizens, including driver's
license, credit card  and financial records, etc., but Congress
responded to citizens' privacy  concerns by refusing to fund it. Now
a similar project is take shape in  more than a dozen states, fueled
by $12 million in federal funds. Dubbed  Matrix (Multistate
Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange), the database is  being
compiled and housed in a private company, but will be open to state 
and federal law officials, and perhaps even U.S. intelligence
agencies. The  project ostensibly is aimed at identifying and
tracking terrorists, but  privacy advocates and others say the use
of Seisint Inc., a Boca Raton,  Fl., company founded by a
millionaire who police say made his money flying  planeloads of
drugs back in the '80s, puts millions of Americans' personal  data
at risk. "It's federally funded, it's guarded by state police, but 
it's on private property? That's very interesting," says University
of  Florida law professor Christopher Slobogin, an expert in privacy
issues.  "If it's federally funded, the federal government obviously
has a huge  interest in it." Already California and Texas have
backed away from the  project, citing security concerns, and Florida
officials acknowledge that  Matrix appears to skirt the federal laws
barring the U.S. government from  collecting routine information on
"innocent citizens." "The CIA doesn't  have this now," says Phil
Ramer, special agent in charge of the Florida  Department of Law
Enforcement's intelligence office. "That's a major  political issue
we'll have to cross." (New York Times 24 Sep 2003)

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