28 April 2005 at 10:29:49 AM
The contract for Matrix has expired, on April 15th, 2005, when funds ran out. Florida, however, wants a sequel to the database, which was powered by Seisint technology (now owned by LexisNexis) and is soliciting bids.The type and breadth of data Florida wants to collect is detailed in their bid sheet
(From page 5) FDLE is
not interested in establishing a single massive database that combines public and criminal justice records. There are many factors that dictate the physical and logical separation of these records. FDLE is interested in leveraging proven technology to assist criminal investigations through analysis of data sources and integrating disparate data from many types of data storage systems. This technology helps to identify, develop, and analyze investigative leads related to terrorist activity and other crimes. Information includes criminal history records, driver's license data, vehicle registration records, sexual offender records, and incarceration/corrections records, including digitized photographs, with significant amounts of public/commercial data.
The statement above about FDLE not created a single massive database is misleading to the casual reader, since the methodology of establishing database linkage is a series of parallel-processing computers. From "No Place to Hide", p 104
At the core of Matrix was a lightning fast computer system called Hole...a series of linked central processing units that added up to a supercomputer. Hole, pronounced "Holy", was created during the dotcom boom for eData.com, the name of the company before it was called Seisint. ...The marketers ide was to use computers, the fast-dropping price of data storage and networks to collect enough information to anticipate the needs and wants of customers. To track them and their desires.
The bid sheet also would seem to favor using Choicepoint Technology, although Florida denies it. However,
Florida's call for information about a Matrix successor may also raise eyebrows because it requires the vendor to have financial and insurance information, and the tools to analyze that information.
Though scores of companies sell data-mining and searching technology, only ChoicePoint, currently under media and government scrutiny for allowing identity thieves to harvest hundreds of thousands of records on Americans, has search technology and centralized insurance claim information.
We recall that Choicepoint, in both the 2000 and 2002 elections, had a sweet deal with Florida to remove voters improperly from voting rolls. Choicepoint was also selling information about Latin American cititzens to the Bush administration (included Mexico's entire list of voters, as well as Columbia's citizen identification databases)
Exactly how the US government is using the data is also unknown. But since it focuses so heavily on Latin America, it would appear to have vast potential for those tracking down illegal immigrants. It could perhaps also be used by US drugs enforcement agents in the region.
ChoicePoint, though, which is based near Atlanta, is far from unfamiliar to observers of the Florida vote of 2000 that decided the US presidency in George Bush's favour. Its subsidiary Database Technologies was hired by the state to overhaul its electoral registration lists - and ended up wrongly leading to the disenfranchising of thousands of voters, whose votes might have led to a different result
It's also worth noting that DBT technologies, owned now by Choicepoint, was created by Hank Asher, the same man who is behind Seisint.
(page 99 from "No Place to Hide")-...Asher was a computer savant who'd created a company called Database Technologies and a groundbreaking product called AutoTrack. Starting in the early 1990s with a single database of automobile records in Florida, Database Techologies added in driver's licences. Corporate records came next. Over the next few years, it absorbed property ownership details, marriage and divorce records, professional licenses, even information about handicap parking stickers. By 1998, Database Technologies, later known as DBT Online, had more than 8 billion files about Americans. ... Seisint, Asher's latest company, had even more information.
Besides the fact that with computer databases that collect virtually all types of information (and in the case of Florida, is not limited to only driving and insurance records), because these companies are privately owned, there's no federal oversight over the information. From a comment to the FTC
It is of utmost importance to now allow companies to fool the FTC by taking advantage of loopholes so that a company does not have to comply with Consumer Reporting Agency regulations.In particular, Seisint has a division called SDS that was created to allow them to bypass Consumer Reporting Agency regulations. The company also hired someone from the FTC to help guide them in what needed to be done so that the SDS business does not impact their Accurint business.You may also know of Seisint as the company that handles the technology for the Matrix project.Seisint does not have any of the consumer practices that provide for correction of incorrect information as due companies such as Choicepoint.Companies such as Seisint that aggregate and data mine our personal information should be scrutinized and not allowed to use loopholes to bypass FTC regulations.
As Mother Jones puts it in their article about Hank Asher and the Matrix
For civil libertarians, the MATRIX conjures up memories of another data-mining project—Admiral John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program, which the Senate, out of civil liberties concerns, nixed in January 2003 before it launched. MATRIX, however, has escaped congressional scrutiny since it is considered a state program. And while MATRIX officials say that they are not using the system to create lists of potential terrorists, critics worry that nothing forbids them from doing that in the future
Any time any company is collecting information on citizens, particularly when the amount and type include consumer data, the government should regulate those companies, not exempt them because they are private companies. We read yesterday that Choicepoint has finally complied with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to ensure that the information being given out in readily-available background screenings was able to be checked by the person being investigated.
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