Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Follow the fusion

On Monday, we yakked it up about fusion centers, coming to a Pennsylvania city near you (if you live near Harrisburg, where the FBI and state police will get cuddly while poring over data).

Yesterday national ACLU updated its report What's Wrong with Fusion Centers and announced it to the press. More info is over at national's blog:
Of course we want law enforcement sharing truly relevant information. But hoarding information like medical records, tax information, credit scores, etc. is effectively throwing more hay onto an already massive stack and that won’t make us safer.

Fusion centers, why do we distrust you so? Let me count the ways:

* Ambiguous lines of authority. Who is the boss of you exactly? So many jurisdictions and no clear lines of authority make us nervous.
* Private Sector Participants. You’re BFF with those guys. Using private-sector companies and corporations to get information about me makes me worry about who has access to that information. And, frankly, it only makes me like you less.
* Military Participation. Ever hear of Posse Comitatus?
* Data Fusion = Data Mining. A lot of hay means a lot of ways to sift through that hay and a lot of hay sifters sifting through that hay. Listen. Bottom line — enough with the hay. You are data mining. Knock it off.
* Excessive Secrecy. You keep telling me to trust you baby, but you’re always keeping secrets. Without oversight and uniform guidelines that means no real rules and that doesn’t work when you’ve got our information at your fingertips.

Amanda from national picked up on this key point:
Here’s the creepiest part. Fusion centers aren’t just a mystery to us, they’re a mystery to the people running them, the people working in them and the people’s whose information is stored within them.

That's what I found Friday while hangin' at PSP headquarters. The communications trooper I spoke with couldn't clarify what the oversight mechanism is at the new PSP-FBI fusion center at PSP HQ. Translation: Abuse our privacy at will.

Andy in Harrisburg

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