[Paleopsych] GovtExec: DHS chief floats idea of collecting private citizens' information

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DHS chief floats idea of collecting private citizens' information 
DAILY BRIEFING April 29, 2005

DHS chief floats idea of collecting private citizens' information

    By Siobhan Gorman, [2]National Journal
    Call it Total Information Awareness, homeland-style.

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff this week floated an idea
    to start a nonprofit group that would collect information on private
    citizens, flag suspicious activity, and send names of suspicious
    people to his department.

    The idea, which Chertoff tossed out at an April 27 meeting with
    security-industry officials, is reminiscent of the Defense
    Department's now-dead Total Information Awareness program that sought
    to sift though heaps of foreign intelligence information to root out
    potential terrorist activity.

    According to one techie who attended the April 27 meeting, Chertoff
    told the group, "Maybe we can create a nonprofit and track people's
    activities, and an algorithm could red-flag individuals. Then, the
    nonprofit could give us the names."

    Chertoff also suggested that private industry form a group to collect
    proprietary information about cyber- and other infrastructure-security
    breaches from companies; scrub it of identifying information;
    aggregate it; and pass it along to the department. The financial
    services industry already has such a group.

    "The secretary was responding to a hypothetical question with a
    hypothetical answer," said Homeland Security Department press
    secretary Brian Roehrkasse. "He did not offer specific programmatic
    content or discuss any specific proposed approach. Rather, he was
    discussing, in general terms, the importance of this issue of
    balancing security and privacy."

    Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of
    America, organized the gathering of about 50 security-industry
    executives from companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, and Verizon.
    Reached by phone at the meeting, he characterized the event as "an
    organizational meeting to discuss how the [information-technology]
    industry can work more effectively with each other" and with the
    Homeland Security Department.

    Because the meeting was closed to the press, Miller would not discuss
    Chertoff's comments.One meeting participant said that Chertoff told
    the group that having a nonprofit collect names rather than the
    government "would alleviate some of the concerns people have." Not so
    for this participant: "This is what made me sort of shift in my seat.
    It sounds like investigating every person for no reason." He was
    particularly concerned that an unknown formula created by this new
    group would determine the red flags.

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