The National Data Exchange

database1a.jpgFrom the Washington Post:

As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police agencies from Alaska and California to the Washington region poured millions of criminal and investigative records into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and other hidden clues.

Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become what one called a “one-stop shop” enabling federal law enforcement, counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous caches of local and state records for the first time. . . .

Federal authorities have high hopes for the N-DEx system, which is to begin phasing in as early as this month. They envision a time when N-DEx, developed by Raytheon for $85 million, will enable 200,000 state and local investigators, as well as federal counterterrorism investigators, to search across millions of police reports, in some 15,000 state and local agencies, with a few clicks of a computer mouse. Those reports will include names of suspects, associates, victims, persons of interest, witnesses and any other person named in an incident, arrest, booking, parole or probation report.

The system will be accessible to federal law-enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, and state fusion centers. Intelligence analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center and FBI’s Foreign Terrorist Tracking Center likely will have access to the system as well.

“The goal is to create a one-stop shop for criminal justice information,” the FBI’s Bush said.

There is nothing inherently wrong with law enforcement agencies sharing data under certain circumstances, but I definitely think it is problematic that we lack a good system of legal regulation over how and when they can share it, what they can do with the information, how they ought to maintain it, and so on.

Image credit: jaylopez

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2 Responses

  1. Tee says:

    I agree, there needs to be a lot more oversight and accountability… I just saw another article about a huge privacy violation:

    Scary stuff.

  2. Michael H Schneider says:

    Law enforcement agency reports should be treated like credit reports: everyone should have the right to look at their own file regularly, for free, and there should be a process for making corrections.

    Mistakes and misinformation happens. Now, if there’s a mistaken entry showing a warrant for me, the first I’m likely to hear of it is when I get arrested and taken to jail after a minor traffic stop. That’s an expensive way to find and correct mistakes.

    Perhaps there should be a notification to the person every time there’s a search about them, too. I’d like to know who is looking at my record, and why.