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OneDOJ to Offer National Criminal Database to Law Enforcement 184

Posted by Zonk
from the you-can-run-but-you-can't-hide dept.
Degrees writes "The Washington Post is reporting that the Justice Department is building a massive database, known as 'OneDOJ'. The system allows state and local police officers around the country to search millions of case files from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies. The system already holds approximately 1 million case records and is projected to triple in size over the next three years. The files include investigative reports, criminal-history information, details of offenses, and the names, addresses and other information of criminal suspects or targets. From the article: 'Civil-liberties and privacy advocates say the scale and contents of such a database raise immediate privacy and civil rights concerns, in part because tens of thousands of local police officers could gain access to personal details about people who have not been arrested or charged with crimes. The little-noticed program has been coming together over the past year and a half. It already is in use in pilot projects with local police in Seattle, San Diego and a handful of other areas, officials said.'"
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OneDOJ to Offer National Criminal Database to Law Enforcement

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  • About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Salvance (1014001) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:43AM (#17398630) Homepage Journal
    I actually think this is a great thing. It always seemed ridiculous to me that law enforcement might need to spend hours/days retrieving data from other agencies in criminal proceedings.
    • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Friday December 29, 2006 @11:49AM (#17398702) Homepage
      If all it was was linking criminal databases between localities, that would be one thing. Clearly, the ability to see if someone has a criminal record and/or a warrant out for his arrest in another state is valuable information. However, tracking other sorts of data on people, even when they have not been charged or convicted of anything, as the summary seems to suggest, is a whole different kettle of fish.
      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:12PM (#17398954)
        However, tracking other sorts of data on people, even when they have not been charged or convicted of anything, as the summary seems to suggest, is a whole different kettle of fish.

        You know the saying amongt traffic patrol officers: "follow someone long enough and he's bound to commit a traffic violation". Well, same thing with OneDOJ: collect enough information about someone and you're bound to find something to incriminate this person eventually.

        Incidentally (and cutting short the Godwin Law), this is exactly what the Gestapo was doing prior to, and during WW2: they collected huge masses of information about everybody, and it was well know that they could pull a jacket on almost anybody in Germany and find enough "evidence" to arrest that person.
        • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by yoder (178161) * <progressivepenguin@gmail.com> on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:01PM (#17399606) Homepage Journal
          That seems to be the ultimate objective with those in power. Keep track of everyone everywhere and you will find that everyone is a criminal of some sort. Those in power can better control their people when they have leverage.

          Citizen Joe Smoe: "Senator Longbottom, I am a voter and concerned citizen and would like you to vote against this upcoming legislation that will further erode our privacy."

          Senator Longbottom: "You know, I would give this privacy concern of yours more of my time, but hey, you illegally downloaded three songs this year and you have a pirated copy of Windows 98. You're a criminal and you want me to defend your privacy? Give me a break."
          • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

            by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:39PM (#17400120) Journal

            Yes. I wish the public would get this. We're all criminals! To add someone to the database just find something and convict the, For the few who have managed to avoid breaking any of the multitude of laws (and how do you know you haven't there are so many), the laws will just continue to be piled up until there's something you will break whether its criminalising the smoking of relaxing substances or using a PGP key that hasn't been registered with the government. When needed, you will be a criminal. You may not even need to be convicted. There are thousands of DNA samples preserved by the UK police of people who were never convicted of anything and their names are on the police database.

            And sepearate to the information on the crimes you may or may not have committed could be a lot of personal information that you may not wish to be searchable by the huge number of people that have access to this.
          • And if Senator Longbottom wants to play the blame game, he's probably got lots of skeletons in his closet, many of which will send him to jail for a long time.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by WML MUNSON (895262)
          "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him" -Cardinal Richelieu (French Minister and Cardinal. 1585-1642)
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          ...they [The Gestapo] could pull a jacket on almost anybody in Germany and find enough "evidence" to arrest that person.

                At least we don't shoot people for their "crimes". Yet.
          • by idontgno (624372)

            At least we don't shoot people for their "crimes". Yet.

            If you use the colloquial meaning of "shoot" (as in "shoot up"), yes we do. [wikipedia.org]

            Up until 2004, Utah could impose death by firing squad as an execution sentence; the sentence is apparently still applicable to the few convicts that were sentenced before that moratorium and are still on death row.

            So, if you were being ironic, ok. If you were being semi-ironic, well, ok. But in truth, we (our representatives in the government--all branches) do shoot people fo

            • Re:About time (Score:4, Informative)

              by Dunbal (464142) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:57PM (#17400410)
              So, if you were being ironic, ok.

                    What I was referring to was the classic "We have found out that you have committed crimes against the state, here is a gun. If you are still in the room when we come back in 2 minutes, we will shoot you and your whole family" line from the Gestapo. We're not QUITE there yet, but soon...
        • Re:About time (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Artifakt (700173) on Friday December 29, 2006 @03:03PM (#17401350)
          The Gestapo started assembling records on potential subversives and criminals and even running small pilot programs where they incarcerated people as early as 1931. At first the records were focused on people many considered undesirables, and the small scale incarceration programs were often technically exceeding the boundaries German law still had at the time. Organized camps were seen by 1933. At that point, most of the people in the gestapo's record's programs and in these camps fell into one of five groups. Conventional criminals (particularly allegedly mentally deficient criminals), Communists/Trade Unionists/Social Democrats, Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious groups that refused to swear oaths of allegence, Gypsies, and homosexuals. It was about August of 1937 when these groups began to be eclipsed by growing numbers of Jews as the 'final solution' was implemented.
                Massive records gathering helped greatly to implement this program without public outcry. Whenever possible, political or religious opponents were actually arrested first for some crime, even if it was often very minor, and the public records showed them as serving time for other criminal acts rather than politically related acts. While court records may show that the person was primarily given a 10 year sentence for having publically spoken against Hitler, for example, they were whenever possible given additional charges, such as illegal weapons posession, hoarding of contraband, or other dangerous sounding or disreputable charges, even if these were mere three month midemeanors under German law. The press generally reported the sentences as being for one or two of the non-political crimes, and miscellanious other unspecified offenses.
        • Godwin was a Nazi! ;)
      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fyngyrz (762201) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:26PM (#17399112) Homepage Journal

        The USSC has already established that local, state and federal government can accumulate information on people when it feels that such accumulation is in its interests, and further, that it can expose that information to the public, making a complete mockery of any idea of privacy.

        The precedent was set using sex offenders and in particular, those sex offenders who had been convicted prior to the instantiation of the registry laws. Forcing those individuals to be on those lists was ruled "not punishment" and hence not subject to ex post facto as laid out in the constitution and subsequent court decisions.

        Now the government can list anyone, anytime, on any list it likes, and there is nothing US citizens can do. Other lists have been showing up and causing trouble such as the no-fly list. Nothing anyone can do about that, either. Lists aren't a bad thing, according to every branch of the government.

        The fact is, when US citizens gave up those freedoms to hand that little extra bit of crucifixion to sex offenders, you gave it up for everyone else, too. US citizens should have screamed bloody murder at the registry laws, you should have screamed bloody murder at any attempt at ex post facto punishment, and you should have screamed bloody murder at the USSC's ridiculous decision that "registry" is a local, state and federal interest.

        The dead, smug silence at the fate of the sex offender - and the "terrorist" - has led the USA to a pitiful shadow of the freedom it once stood for. Sophistry has undermined ex post facto, habeas corpus, the commerce clause, the 2nd amendment, freedom of speech, and now... now you're worried about the feds sharing information. Good luck climbing back up that slope.

        • by lawpoop (604919)
          "The USSC has already established..."

          FYI, it's usually abbreviated SCOTUS, as in SCotUS.
          • by LuYu (519260)
            FYI, it's usually abbreviated SCOTUS, as in SCotUS.

            Now we have politically correct acronyms?

        • Taking away the right to bear arms for offenses committed before the passage of the law is another example.

          18 USC 922(g)(8) and 18 USC 922(g)(9) are examples. 10 year sentence for violation (18 USC 924(a)(2)).

          That's ex-post facto, since taking away the right to bear arms is a punishment, and this punishment (18 USC 922(g)(8) and 18 USC 922(g)9)) is being imposed on people even though it was not a punishment in force at the time of the act which resulted in the loss of the right to bear arms.

          It would be like
        • On the plus side, the sex offender registry has been so damaged by abuse (adding scores of people who aren't dangerous, or even "sex" offenders), it will soon be to the point where there's no shame being on the list.

          "Says here you're a sex offender."

          "Yep; I pissed on my neighbor's car when he parked on my side of the lot."

          "Hilarious. Ah well, anyway, you're hired."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fyngyrz (762201) *

            On the plus side, the sex offender registry has been so damaged by abuse (adding scores of people who aren't dangerous, or even "sex" offenders), it will soon be to the point where there's no shame being on the list.

            Ouch. This isn't a plus side. Shame, or at least remorse, is appropriate. For a reasonable length of time. Not a lifetime. In any case, the problem is that someone on these lifetime lists can't re-integrate into society, not because of shame, but because when there is a choice between two

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              What we end up with is a reserve of people who cannot, under any circumstances, recover from the punishment they have received and re-integrate with society.

              I'm sorry; I'm so jaded at this point in my life, I can't help but believe that this was the intent. I just think the system is failing, because they have abused it too much.

              It's really simple: create classes of people that you can use as scapegoats and targets. You can't (unfairly) rule a united people, so divide them. It happens everywhere: a

    • by mpapet (761907)
      Except when a bad cop uses the database to further their own enterprise.

      And we know there's never been cops that work for organized crime or, maybe perhaps running their own enterprise. Now, they will have the ability to expand operations in a massive way.

      I agree with your general principal, that law enforcement agencies need to work together more easily, but this should be accomplished through IT standards and a legislative agenda. We've got NIST to do this kind of thing. Banks in the U.S. have done thi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LuYu (519260)

        I agree with your general principal, that law enforcement agencies need to work together more easily, but this should be accomplished through IT standards and a legislative agenda. We've got NIST to do this kind of thing. Banks in the U.S. have done this with the guiding hand of the federal gov't behind them, why should law enforcement be any different?

        You must be joking. Have you not read the Constitution?

        No State shall, without the Consent of Congress ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Indeed yes; a more efficient Police is needed to support a more efficient Police State. Ease of access of your data (and if your data is in there OF COURSE you are a criminal that needs data kept on them) is essential.
      Perhaps all police personnel files should be shared with Wal*Mart while we are at it. the discount on uniform purchase (sale on Jack Boots for example) would certainly offset any security concern of sharing home addresses with minimum wage earning clerks with possible previous criminal re
    • Fortunately, it seems that the pro-Tyranny Republican pseudo-conservativism preached by likes of Hannity, Limbaugh et al hit a high-water mark a few years ago and is now ebbing rapidly. And none too soon. And the renewed interest in politics among regular working people that the years of the Right Wing Nutjobs started is only going to help the resurgent Left in the US as regular working Americans realize just how badly they're getting beaten, while pasty MBAs on Wall Street, rewarded with multi-million do
  • Useful Cause (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jmickle (941634)
    This surely could have a useful cause to see if people are wanted criminals in other states. Also can cut down the time for the feds to figure out what to do with you. It is ridiculous how it does take up to weeks just to pull a case number from a simple case. Consolidation seems to be the key here! hope they have a good redundant backup system :-P (anyone see record clearing coming soon? )
    • by Enoxice (993945)
      Redundancy? Of course it will have redundancy; they're going to put an unencrypted copy of the database on every single DoJ laptop and desktop, unencrypted and accessable from the web.
  • Minnesota has something like called 'crimnet'. Its so inaccurate and awkward that many cops to do use it give up and use commercial web sites (who in turn mine data from crimnet and make it easier to search). Its harder now to correct bad information, and bad people get away while good people get permanently nailed - without ever having committed a crime.

    This looks like a great opportunity for terrorists, many of whom have better technical resources that the feds.

    • by yoder (178161) *
      I've heard about the problems they are having with that. Crimnet is not user friendly enough so law enforcement is going to a private database. Problem is, Crimnet will correct their mistakes, the private companies do not.
  • ... Remember that the FBI (under DOJ) can't find it's ass with both hands when it concerns IT. Their pre-9/11 systems overhaul/upgrade is still a massive failure. Any reason to believe this will be different?
  • by Scothoser (523461) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:05PM (#17398880) Homepage

    This is an age-old question, and one that will never be answered, I'm afraid. Is it better to give up privacy rights for the sake of better communication and collaboration between law enforcement agencies? How is this different than local police creating their own database of case files? What does it mean to have the right to privacy? These are questions that have never fully been answered, I'm afraid. The first problem is that the US Constitution currently does not , and yet it's the one right that we constantly want protected. [usconstitution.net]

    The other problem is that, even if the Constitution guaranteed the right to privacy, it would only guarantee that right to it's citizens. If someone chooses to break the laws governing the citizenry, they are then rejecting the citizenry. Does that mean that they are no longer citizens? Socrates felt so, as outlined in Plato's The Apology of Socrates [wsu.edu]. But is that so? Has that been determined? I am unaware of any court case or legislation that guarantees the citizenship of convicted criminals, nor of any that revokes their citizenship.

    I think the first thing that needs to be done with regards to privacy concerns is to amend the constitution to allow for the right to privacy. Once this is complete, then the privacy advocates will have a platform on which to base their objections that is rooted within the Constitution. From there, other concerns can be addressed, such as the citizenship status of convicted criminals.

    That being said, I support any collaboration between law enforcement agencies in protecting the citizenry, and do not see any abuses that have not already been in place since Government has been in place. The question is, are there any statistical evidence to support the collaboration in the apprehension and conviction of law breakers vs. the eventual mistakes and abuses that are feared?

    • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:43PM (#17399358) Homepage Journal
      If someone chooses to break the laws governing the citizenry, they are then rejecting the citizenry. Does that mean that they are no longer citizens? Socrates felt so, as outlined in Plato's The Apology of Socrates.

      The problem with creating a permanent criminal class is that there is no possibility of redemption or reform. The only reasonable path is to have two, and only two, classes of crimes. The unredeemable, in which case imprisonment is life without parole, or death; and the redeemable, where the criminal's debt to society is considered 100% paid upon completion of the assigned punishment or rehabilitative course.

      By releasing people back into society who have no hope of ever climbing out of the gutter, we continually increase a class of people who not only can do us harm, but have already proven they will, and who are motivated, by us, to do it ( or something else criminal) again. The motivation is simple: We won't let them do anything else.

      Today, a background check is considered normal in order to get a job. This includes your criminal records, if any. If you have a criminal record, you're not going to get any job for which there is competition (in other words, most of them.) You're a permanent criminal, unredeemable, permanently evil and a bottom-feeder.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        By releasing people back into society who have no hope of ever climbing out of the gutter, we continually increase a class of people who not only can do us harm, but have already proven they will, and who are motivated, by us, to do it ( or something else criminal) again. The motivation is simple: We won't let them do anything else.

        Let's not forget that when we combine the redeemable and unredeemable in the same facility (not that I really believe that anyone out there is literally unredeemable, but the

        • by fyngyrz (762201) *

          I know that if I were thrown into prison for something stupid, and I got assraped, my first stop out of jail would be to go pick up some cached firearms and my second stop would be the DA's house, the third the Judge's, and so on. Oh sure, it wouldn't help me - I'd probably just go right back in.

          The system actually encourages this kind of thinking by making sure that your job, possessions, friendships, future employability, finances and family relationships all suffer to their very limits, as well as

      • Hm the quote at the bottom of the page seems remarkably appropriate:
        The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. -- Oscar Wilde
      • By releasing people back into society who have no hope of ever climbing out of the gutter, we continually increase a class of people who not only can do us harm, but have already proven they will, and who are motivated, by us, to do it ( or something else criminal) again. The motivation is simple: We won't let them do anything else.

        How do you determine that someone has no hope? How do you know that the motivation for their crimes is you? You seem to know an awful lot about this person whom you've condemned as unredeemable person. I agree that a pattern of behaviour says a lot, and a person's criminal record should be considered while they are on trial. However, I don't see that justice is improved by assigning a punishment other than the one that fits the crime just because of their past difficulties. 6 armed robbery convictions sho

        • by fyngyrz (762201) *

          How do you determine that someone has no hope?

          I observe that society will not let them have any job that is not utterly menial; I observe, particularly in the case of sexual offenders who are listed for life, that they can never assume that the look they just got from the old lady next door isn't brimming with hatred, that they are proscribed from living in various areas (which may be entire towns) and I observe that society is so willing to commit these people to the bottom-most rung of existence tha

      • by couchslug (175151)
        It isn't that simple.
        I've met plenty of people who are just permanently, by choice of repeated behaviors, petty losers and minor offenders. It would be counterproductive and horrendously expensive to lock them all up for life, but they should be flagged by the system so those of us who want to avoid hiring them in a position of trust can do so.
        They don't rate being considered redeemed, because they are not and will not be redeemed.
        They don't rate life in Supermax either.
        • by fyngyrz (762201) *

          It isn't that simple.

          On the contrary, I have high confidence it could be.

          The people you describe are, by definition in my view, redeemable in the sense that they can repay the consequences of their acts. This is because their acts are petty, and repayment can always be made to society for a petty act. Money, property, work product. If they re-offend, further payment can be extracted, ad infinitum. To be unredeemable, one must transcend the petty in the first place so that repayment is impossible (t

  • ObLOTR (Score:4, Funny)

    by LittleGuy (267282) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:07PM (#17398892)
    OneDOJ to rule them all, OneDOJ to find them,
    OneDOJ to bring them all and in the darkness remand them
    To the Land of Maricopa where the Arpaio [wikipedia.org] lie.

  • It's not so much the government I would be worried about abusing this system, it's the contractors hired to create/maintain it - as well as the possibility of commercialisation of certain parts of it. Let's say company X will pay so many millions to get details on the type of car a certain demographic drives (of course anonymous to avoid civil liberties being eroded) - how far would they allow this and how much money would it take to start getting full data - (for those who say it wouldn't be allowed, and e
  • Problematic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:09PM (#17398920)
    The files include investigative reports, criminal-history information, details of offenses, and the names, addresses and other information of criminal suspects or targets.

    The big problem I see with this is that it encourages local police to target people (someone who gets pulled over for speeding) on the assumption that if the Feds investigated them, then they must be criminals. I tell all of my DUI clients that if they have been convicted once of DUI, they should never ever drive within ten hours of drinking ANY alcohol for the rest of their lives. The reason is that every time they get pulled over, the cop will see that conviction and will look very hard for evidence of drinking.

    But this database has more than just arrest and conviction records. So it is going to cause heightened suspicion and prejudicial treatment of people who have never committed a crime in their lives.

    If they can't get enough evidence to convict you or even to arrest you, then how reliable could their information be?

    I see little reason for them to be sharing this information on a large scale with local police departments, except that it does give them the power to insert negative information about political activists who some anonymous person in the FBI may not like.

    This is certainly not good for civil liberties, and I question its value for fighting crime.
    • Many lawyers would rather tell them to keep it up, and keep making the money. :)
    • On the flip side, one of the 9/11 hijackers was arrested 2 days earlier for doing 90 mph in a 65 mph zone.

      Had the cop known he was on the government's terror list, 3000 people would still be alive and the World Trade Center would still be standing.
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:10PM (#17398926)

    When I was in college in the early 1970's, I participated in the Students for a Democratic Socciety (SDS). I was involved in the Boston area, and helped The Socialist Workers Party do a radio show on the MIT and Northeastern Univ. radio stations there. Some years later I did a Freedom of Information Act request for any FBI stuff. A bunch of it came back, primarily from my activities with the radio show. Now, remember, nothing I did was illegal or even immoral. Nor was I charged with any crime or even ever contacted by the FBI. All this was doe secretly without my knowledge.

    I have a real problem with any bored local police officer sitting in his cruiser anywhere to be able to simply type in my name and get information about me from over 30 years ago! Frankly, it's none of their business!. Something similar to this actually has already happened to me. I was driving a car I had just bought with my old plates attached (perfectly legal in Massachusetts for 48 hours provided you have the bill of sale, etc.). I stopped for gas and when I came back from paying a cop was there who wanted to know why my plate number came up with a different car. Turns out he was bored and so he begain typing in license plates of nearby cars int his terminal in the cruiser. What's to stop him turning around and typing my name (which he got from the license plate) into the FBI search?

    This gives the cops WAY too much information and power to pry into our private affairs!!

    All in the cause of TERRORISM, of courser!! :(

    • by Bryansix (761547)
      What exactly is private about the fact that you did a radio show?
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        What exactly is private about the fact that you did a radio show?

              It was a "commie" radio show ;)
      • It's not about privacy. It's about wants. The grandparent didn't "want" people knowing he did a radio show. Thus his righteous indignation that cops have the ability to discover that he did a radio show. It's a very shallow philosophy of rights, but it's par for the course these days. If you don't want something, scream bloody murder about your "rights", and you'll be modded up on Slashdot.
    • by Daemonstar (84116)
      All queries in systems like that are tracked; you can't just go running criminal history checks on someone because you're bored. It'll show up, and you will probably be questioned about it. This may vary from state-to-state and from database-to-database.

      OTOH, an officer has to have probable cause to initiate an investigation, otherwise the case will be thrown out. If I find someone walking down the street, I can question them all day long, but they can simply walk away and I can do nothing to stop it
      • by karmatic (776420)
        An officer has to have probable cause to initiate an investigation.

        While this is _technically_ true, it's amazing how low that bar can be. I had the misfortune of dealing with the police not too long ago; I locked my door after leaving it (to keep them from barging in and claiming I consented to a search). They used that fact, and claimed that I was "evasive" and "refused to make eye contact" as the basis for obtaining a search warrant. The first statement is a gross mischaracterization; the second state
    • by slashkitty (21637)
      Well, the license plate checks are already getting much more automated.

      I remember a few years ago in NYC seeing a guy in a car driving around typing in every single license plate # he could see. I'm sure it was just an insurance company thing to check for stolen/missing cars, but who knows how many things they check.

      Of course, they have cameras that can read the plates now anyway, don't even need the guy. They can just mount a camera somewhere, or drive it around and map who and where everybody is.

    • I stopped for gas and when I came back from paying a cop was there who wanted to know why my plate number came up with a different car. Turns out he was bored and so he begain typing in license plates of nearby cars int his terminal in the cruiser.

      That much is perfectly reasonable. Your plates are visible to anybody that cares to look, and having them tied to another car is reasonable suspicion that someone stole some plates. I agree about the national search thing. It should only include criminal record

  • by End Program (963207) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:14PM (#17398978)
    While I applaud the effort to improve the efficiency of law enforcement, I am concerned about unintended consequences.

    One advantage of the old system was a built in forgiveness factor. Someone who had a checked past could clean up their life and move forward in life. Any headaches dealing with the system bias and mistakes would eventually become less important over time as records were destroyed or lost.

    Now, you will have one central database where every legal detail on your life could be contained. What happens to impulsive individuals to get in a little trouble when they young?

    Will they have a record following them around the rest of their lives? I guess your high school teacher was right when they said, "This is going on your permanent record!"
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I guess your high school teacher was right when they said, "This is going on your permanent record!"

            You're right. Maybe I shouldn't have stabbed her in the eye with the scissors...
    • What makes you think it an "unintended consequence"?

      I'm sure there are principled folks who are thinking that this great big DB will help keep our society safe. I'm equally sure there are equally powerful, but not so principled, folks who want this to further their schemes of maintaining power.

      The nature of Institutions is to maintain their power by any means. If some individuals are harmed in the course of the maintenance of power, well, too bad. Human history is replete with examples of individuals and gr
  • WHEEEEE!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rawtatoor (560209) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:14PM (#17398984) Journal
    Is everyone enjoying the ride down the slippery slope?
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Is everyone enjoying the ride down the slippery slope?

            I love it. Especially because I don't live in the US. Look on the bright side, when we hit the bottom, there will be nowhere left to go but up again...
  • by rlp (11898) on Friday December 29, 2006 @12:31PM (#17399200)
    I worked on a law enforcement data sharing effort in Ohio. Most police departments are islands of automation. They'll have a 911 system and usually an integrated departmental records management system. Often they will have separate access to a very limited state / federal system. Very rarely will they tie in with neighboring local agencies.

    Traffic stops are are dangerous stressful moments for police officers. They don't know if they are stopping Joe Citizen, or someone who just committed armed robbery. If an individual is wanted in the next town, usually that information will not be available.

    The Ohio system (OLLEISN) was meant to address this on an statewide basis and got off to a good start. Data is exchanged using an XML standard (Global Justice XML Data Model) developed at Georgia Tech for the DOJ. Content consists of adult criminal records and is tightly controlled.

    If the DOJ follows this model for Federal data and does a good job of implementation - I see this as a very positive development.
    • by DutchSter (150891) on Friday December 29, 2006 @04:30PM (#17402358)
      As a part-time law enforcement officer in Ohio, I have to agree that the Ohio system is done pretty well. Absolutely everything is logged and routinely monitored. Try talking to any of your good cop buddies to see if they'll run a plate for you. Most of them will say "oh hell no!" and run as fast as they can. We had an officer get fired two years ago for abusing the LEADS system. He was running plates "on the side" for some friends of his. All went well until one day he ran the plate of someone wanted for assault. Naturally the log analyzer program went nuts when it found that one of our officers ran the plate of a wanted individual, but we had no corresponding arrest record. So it went onto the exception report and was reviewed by the Captain a few days later. Turns out he'd only run five or six plates as favors, but the Chief asked for his badge and gun then and there in exchange for not shipping the case to the prosecutor. After the guy was walked out the door, the Chief sent the case to the prosecutor anyway.

      Of course, the problem with accountability being at this level is that without further review up above, local corruption could skate right by. I do, however, remember of the town of New Rome (when it still existed) losing access to the state LEADS system for something like 90 days when someone claimed that he was being harassed by the local police and it was discovered that the mayor was having the police chief look up the records of people he didn't like and do things like put BOLOs (Be on the lookout) on them so they'd get stopped for no reason any time another officer ran their plates.
  • Security (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aarenz (1009365)
    If the DOJ can secure it so that only valid law enforcement users can access the system, it will be fine. I am sure that most of the data that is in the system is not admissable in court, so they would have to track down the real evidence and not be able to use invalid data that was put into a database of information. It may point the finger at someone, but they will not be convicted based on wrong information in a DOJ file.
    • Like secure enough to prevent Microsoft from embedding their agents in the DOJ and overturning the antitrust suit?

      Oh wait...

      mandelbr0t
  • In this series Edward Woodward gets his 'Union' card confiscated (declared a non-citizen) and almost starves to death as he can't access any of the basic services necessary for survival.

    [fiction]

    "The population is now governed by the tyrannical Home Office Public Control Department (PCD), who have done away with the rights of the individual and maintain control through ID cards, rationing and electronic surveillance"

    "the Great Britain .. we see portrayed in this series .. depicts a distinct "ruli
  • URL? :)

  • Who's watching the watchers in this case? Does this fall under some sort of bureaucrat-stuffed intelligence oversight committee on Capitol Hill?
  • by martyb (196687) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:34PM (#17400044)

    Sigh. I don't know where to begin.

    First off, I understand there is some not insignificant value to this idea. The concept of making it easier for law enforcement to gather already available information on a suspect is quite laudable. It bothers me when I hear of how a suspect in a "major investigation" was actually picked up on an unrelated offense, and let go, because the arresting officers were unaware of the other outstandings on the person. It would be nice if we could stop this from happening. In fact, I'm sure many lives could be saved. If I had a loved one who was murdered, and then found out that law enforcement had actually captured the suspect beforehand, AND LET HIM GO, you can bet I'd be outraged. But is this proposal the right way to go about it? What is the REAL COST to you and to me. Not just in dollars and cents, but also in our freedoms as citizens.

    My concern is more with the implications and implementations of this concept, and how easily it can be abused.

    Data Quality: People have been known to not give their correct name to the police. Some people have used multiple names (aliases, AKA, etc.) Further, given that even touch-typists will occasionally make typographical errors (and not everyone is a touch-typist, either), I can forsee a not-insignificant amount of "bad" data finding its way into the system. Someone with a name similar to mine commits an offense, but gets recorded UNDER MY NAME. See: false-positives (Type I error) and flase-negatives (Type II error) here: Type I and type II errors [wikipedia.org].

    • They may not find this person when they go looking for his info - because it's NOT under his name.
    • They might find this person's offense(s) should they go looking under my name - say, for a minor traffic offense.

    Feed the Database: If it's so benign, I want to see a requirement that they seed the database with information on EVERY SINGLE FEDERAL AND STATE OFFICIAL. President of the USA, every senator, representative, judge, police officer, sheriff, District Attorney, etc. If your wage is paid by our taxes, then your info gets loaded into their system automatically. If there is an uproar about doing this for THEM, then maybe they should not be doing it to US. Got to stamp out any possible corruption, yanno? Besides, if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. Right?

    Log EVERY access: CRUD - Create, Read, Update, Delete. Storage is cheap. Log EVERY SINGLE time the data is accessed complete with the date, time, source IP, accessor's name (See the Feed the Database, above, what was requested, etc. If what you are doing with the database is on the up-and-up, then you have nothing to hide. Log it.

    Prosecute Abuse of the System: Run analyses every single day to seek out abuse of the system. And Prosecute Them. Publicize The Prosecutions. Enter the prosecutions into the system. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Data Validation and Correction: It's going to happen. Some data is going to be inaccurate. (Consider the problems that exist with the accuracy of people's credit reports. And the difficulties, effort, and cost involved in getting those mistakes rectified.) How can I:

    1. Get access to the information they have on me?
    2. Contest its accuracy?
    3. Ensure corrections are applied?

    Looking ahead: Data storage costs are coming down. Some localities have ever-present video cameras recording all activity in their purview. I can imagine a time when advanced techniques exist to go searching through these archives looking for, extracting, and logging the identities and activities of all within their field of view (face recognition, scene analyses, cell phone GPS, etc.) Combine all these streams and extracts into a central DB and one can easily go trolling for perps.

    So, in short, I can see some good intentions behind this. Quite laudable in fact. But, I am NOT convinced this is a good idea, never mind whether or not they can come up with a good implementation.

  • by gwayne (306174) on Friday December 29, 2006 @01:49PM (#17400294)

    is the ability for a system like this to create new classes of crimes and criminals out of normal law-abiding people. Just think--DA's around the country are always looking to increase their conviction rates, so they start mining data and looking for trends. The next thing you know, there are new laws on the books restricting freedoms, including

    • petty vices
    • how you dress (think hijab)
    • where you shop
    • what you wrote in your blog
    • what you think
    • who you associate with professionally and personally
    • who you voted for last election

    Each of these areas has been encroached upon by our new Socialist-Bush government.

    I for one, DO NOT welcome our new socialist overlords!

    • Buahahahaahah! You have to be kidding me! I understand that these freedoms are encroached upon by other government but not in the US. Yes the people should lookout for this kind of crap and put a stop to it. However it is one giant leap of logic to say that this system will have any effect on the freedoms you enjoy currently. In fact you proved nothing in your post except that you have a wild imagination.
  • is the accuracy of them and how they deal with individual state laws regarding protection and destruction of data. I personally have no problem with these databases - ALL of the information in them are in the public record - except case information that is sealed by a judge.

    One issue of concern would be and example where I get busted at 17 for a petty crime - do my probation and some community service and have my record expunged. As far as the State is concerned, my record is now clean and the arrest s

  • After all, there is this little thing called the NCIC (http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.ht m ) that has already been in use by Law Enforcement for decades now. Everytime you've been pulled over by a cop and asked for your drivers' license (and/or other ID), what do you think he's doing when he takes them back to his vehicle? He's running your name through the NCIC and checking for any warrants. All of the paranoia and "Big Brother" talk may very well be much ado about nothing; when a criminal is
  • this is happening as our WWII vets die off. They have been adamant about fighting the gov and preventing them from being what they saw back then. Now, our current leaders have never put their life on the line for saving our country and they have not seen what a bad gov can do. It shows how little they value our freedom, while at the same time invading other countries and speaking of democracy.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

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