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Florida's Version Of TIA May Spread To Other States 424

Annoying Cowwart writes "Looks like TIA is coming back, this time through the by-the States-but-all-together backdoor. Now called M.A.T.R.I.X. ('Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange'). See the Washington Post article for details. I wonder: do they have to try hard to find such apt names for their projects or does it come naturally? (For German speakers, there is another article about this in Der Spiegel.)"
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Florida's Version Of TIA May Spread To Other States

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  • The Skynet funding bill just passed.
  • Whoa.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Next time someone says "The Matrix has you", they probably won't be lying. Of course, you'll know all too well, when the CIA goons come crashing through the front door.
    • Re:Whoa.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:47AM (#6626061) Homepage
      Next time someone says "The Matrix has you", they probably won't be lying. Of course, you'll know all too well, when the CIA goons come crashing through the front door.
      So, do you kill the first six, then run from rooftop to rooftop in a mad dash to the payphone, or do you do what nobody else has ever done -- stay and fight?

      --
    • Mmmhhh... So which pill do I take again?

    • Re:Whoa.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Safety State ( 692003 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:06AM (#6626253) Homepage
      Sure, you may joke, but there's an important reason for government surveillance of consumer habits.

      Terrorists are everywhere. Yes, even in your breakfast cereal. Did you ever doubt it when they started checking supermarket discount records?

      Now you tell me: who's going to protect you when terrorists hitch a ride straight to your basement in that new Sears washer box?

      http://safetystate.com/ss.cgi?action=material&id=2 3 [safetystate.com]
      • Re:Whoa.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AllUsernamesAreGone ( 688381 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:34AM (#6626494)
        And what if they *gasp* get it wrong?

        And what about when someone who shouldn't gets access to the system and either farms details, or better yet, frames you?

        And what about when you may actually have a reason to organise a rebellion because your government has turned your country into a police state the KGB would envy?

        I've lived with real terrorism all my life - I was 5 minutes away from being killed on one occasion I know of for certain (Manchester IRA bombing) and probably more. As far as I'm concerned this "keeping track of YOU so they can't blow you up" is nothing more than a way to monitor and control a nation, it has nothing to do with stopping terrorists.
        • Re:Whoa.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by chimpslice ( 580971 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:27PM (#6626908) Journal
          They will get it wrong, it's a certainty. I work for the State of Florida and deal with FDLE every day, and like any other cops they're not above harassment, vendettas, and abuse of power. More dangerously, some of the techs and investigators are just not all that bright. The law enforcement databases that are being pulled together are chock full of erroneous information. The clerks who enter the data don't make a living wage and there's a high turnover, so the quality of data entry is very low. Those who work in law enforcement are aware of this, but it's very hard to challenge something once it's in there, and they like it that way. If you know someone it helps.

          What's most fascinating to me is the bit about "commercially available databases" being included as well. Does this include your credit card receipts? How about the data collected by your supermarket discount card?

          PS for the Non-Americans out there . . . I know the development of the culture of surveillance might be disturbing to you, but all we want is to be on reality TV. The Bush administration understands this deep-seated human need and is doing all they can to get us all on camera.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:40AM (#6625986) Homepage Journal
    Considering that this is coming around "through the back door" I'd suggest a change from "the over-your-shoulder dept."...
  • When I use the first letter of each word, I get M.A.T.I.X.

    Where is the "R"?
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:42AM (#6626017) Homepage Journal
    Multistate
    Anti
    Terrorism
    Information
    Exchange

    Now, how the hell do you get MATRIX out of that?

    More like MATIE, as in:
    "ARR MATIE, we be getting the blackmail goods on the serfs, arrr!"
  • by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:43AM (#6626020)
    Melchior-1, Balthasar-2, and Casper-3 just entered QA testing. It's expected that when all 3 systems are deployed to production, the M.A.T.R.I.X system will use the MAGI computers to determine if the citizen in question should be eliminated.
  • At least, naming such a monster "the Matrix" is honest. Or, at least, kind of.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Matrix takes domestic surveillance TO THE EXTREME!
  • Scary quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cK-Gunslinger ( 443452 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:43AM (#6626024) Journal

    A senior official overseeing the project acknowledged it could be intrusive and pledged to use it with restraint. "It's scary. It could be abused. I mean, I can call up everything about you, your pictures and pictures of your neighbors," said Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of statewide intelligence. "Our biggest problem now is everybody who hears about it wants it."
    • Re:Scary quote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrWho520 ( 655973 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:02AM (#6626214) Journal
      In 1999, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI suspended information service contracts with an earlier Asher-run company because of concerns about his past, according to law enforcement sources. The Chicago Tribune reported in 1987 that court documents in a federal drug case said defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who identified Asher as a pilot and onetime smuggler, offered him as an informant.

      Who are the criminals here, the people violating our civil rights by using this thing or the former drug trafficer heading its development? Is not this sort of system supposed to track these people down?

      Maybe we should be considered the criminals if we let this sort of thing proceed.
    • Re:Scary quote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pmz ( 462998 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:16AM (#6626334) Homepage
      ...your pictures and pictures of your neighbors...

      So, the DMV is now their data-entry division? That's the only way they could get digitized photographs of most people.

      After tying together the DMV, the IRS, and the credit reporting agencies, there probably isn't anything they can't know about a person. They'll even be able to tell what brand of locks are on people's houses, whether any large defensive dogs live on the property, and the guns a person owns. All because of registrations and credit cards.

      When they come for you, at least they will be prepared.
      • Re:Scary quote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by deop ( 611703 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:26PM (#6626899)

        ...there probably isn't anything they can't know about a person...

        True, if you consider the collection of numbers that identify you to be everything about you. But don't you think that people that are trying to hide things about themselves would have a way to do so, under the radar? Not everyone uses credit cards, many people don't drive, lots don't register their dogs.

        Seems to me that such a system really works best on people with nothing to hide - which contradicts the very purpose for which it is intended.

        • >>Seems to me that such a system really works best on people with nothing to hide - which contradicts the very purpose for which it is intended.

          Agreed. However, the system fulfills it's purpose well -- it does precisely what it was designed to do. Those objectives are simply different from the stated goals. "Law enforcement" learned (from TIA) not to tell the public the real purpose of privacy-invading projects such as this unless they wished to suffer the wrath of elected officials threatened with
    • Re:Scary quote (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Khomar ( 529552 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:31AM (#6626470) Journal
      pledged to use it with restraint

      While that is all well and good, assuming that we can in fact trust this particular "senior official", what guarantees do we have that his successor will use the same "restraint"? How can we enforce this restraint especially in the current climate where all restraints regarding privacy and liberty seem to be expendable in the interests of national security?

      • by lommer ( 566164 )
        I actually think this system can work, but it needs three major adjustments:

        1) Anyone who wants to access information from this system, for whatever reason, must get a search warrant from a judge before doing so.

        2) People must be allowed to retrieve their own records at will and be permitted to submit corrections to incorrect data.

        3) Public oversight in the form of a third-party's review of the system should be enforced in the form of an annual report to congress or some such body detailing the usage of
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:43AM (#6626026) Journal
    TAKE THE RED PILL!!!
  • MATRIX (Score:2, Funny)

    by pdbogen ( 596723 )
    "We'll call it Matrix, that way all those geeks that oppose tyrrany will thank it's cool."

    "But Boss, wasn't the Matrix an evil, tyrranical computer that wanted to subjugate and/or destroy humanity and free thought?"

    ***VOIP***

    You get a nickle if you get the reference. And, I don't mean the generic The Matrix reference.
  • Acronym expansion (Score:4, Informative)

    by soundsop ( 228890 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:46AM (#6626050) Homepage
    FYI, TIA = Total Information Awareness
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:46AM (#6626059) Homepage Journal
    Frankly, I'd be surprised if this tool is actually used in terrorist-related investigations more than a small percentage of the time.

    That said, as long as the statement holds true that "it includes information that has always been available to investigators but brings it together and enables police to access it with extraordinary speed", I really don't have too much of a problem with it. It doesn't represent an encroachment on privacy rights so much as an improvement in investigatory tools. What needs to develop alongside these tools, of course, are strict guidelines on the manner in which they should be used.
    • Exactly. I want legitimate usage of the system to be quick and effortless (ex: in responding to a fratic call about a 'dark haired man in a green sedan snatching my daughter off the sidewalk'), yet have enough red-tape following its usage so that the cop-with-a-grudge-against-his-ex-wife can be busted and thrown in jail for misuse.

    • as long as the statement holds true that "it includes information that has always been available to investigators but brings it together and enables police to access it with extraordinary speed",


      I wouldn't mind these things so much if a record of who accessed them and what queries they made were published in a public record.

      -- this is not a .sig
  • by margycdb ( 533330 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:47AM (#6626069)
    "It would let authorities, for instance, instantly find the name and address of every brown-haired owner of a red Ford pickup truck in a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event."

    Things like this seem to me to only hurt the innocent. I mean, given that everyone can now read about this existing, any half-witted criminal would get a haircut, steal a new car and do something far away from home, right? I mean, if someone didn't take precautions such as these given this system, then they would probably be the type of criminal who would leave other evidence everywhere. This seems to have a ton of privacy implications and would target a lot of innocent people who, just say, happened to own red trucks or whatever the case may be, without targetting the actual criminals. What a waste. And they used my tax dollars to pay for a stupid, incorrect acronym, too. Grrr...

    • Psst.

      You can already do the exact same search through the DMV.

      During the DC sniper investigation, hundreds of people driving white vans were pulled over, searched and questioned. Thats how investigations work.
    • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:57AM (#6626171) Homepage Journal
      I would think that the witch hunt for white trucks and vans during the Washington Sniper hunt would have created a large enough negative response to this that every state legislator would recognize the idiocy of being able to list all owners of such vehicles within a 10 mile radius of an incident.

      For those few who are not aware, the snipers were driving a blue Chevy Celebrity (large car) not a van or truck as initially indicated.

      I will leave it to others to document the problems the initial reports caused for people who had vehicles that matched the initial descriptions.

      -Rusty
      • So your saying if police have information that someone is randomly murdering people, possibly from a white van, they should do nothing about it?

        There was no "backlash". I live in the area, one of the shootings was a handful of blocks from my work. One of my coworkers in a light beige van was searched.

        The general opinion was "we'll do anything we can to help catch this lunatic", not "oh my god my rights are being infringed upon by the man".
    • Never underestimate the stupidity of the average criminal. It is a sad fact that most crime is committed in the immediate neighborhood of the criminal.

      I think you're reading too much into this - nobody is going to be 'targetted' by this system. This is just data mining. Tying together databases they already have. They've got the DMV records that tell them vehicle make, model and color - so they can do a query to find all the vehicles that match a description; even if they don't have 'hair color' as a quest
      • by morgue-ann ( 453365 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:42AM (#6626562)
        coincidental circumstantial evidence, with no prior record or other connection to the crime, and you'll be eliminated from the police's enquiries in a flash,

        This, for me, is one of the major problems with TIA-esque systems.

        The abuses are:

        1) a cop harrasses his ex-wife's new boyfriend using TIA data

        2) government critics are harrassed

        3) innocents are convicted using a "web" of circumstantial evidence

        Maybe I watch too much Law & Order & C.S.I., but I do worry that someone with my general description and some other minor similarity: same brand of shoes or car, same point of debit card usage) along with proximity to a cell site near the crime at the time it's committed could be enough to lock me up. Means and opportunity, leaving only a thin motive to fabricate: pysch history, associates, financial issues, high school "permanent record" (corroborated with testimony from a vice principal).

        They seem to be able to get bank records phone LUDs and FastPass usage without subpoaenas and use this probably cause to get search warrants.

        #2 is what I see as the greatest threat to society at large, but I'm not that outspoken, [lockup.org] so it's #3 I worry about personally.
  • Whatever happened to the grandaddy of all govt information systems, SCMODS = State County Municipal Offender Data System [att.net]?
    • It died because its acronym wasn't cool enough to play with the big boys.
    • It has probably been supplanted by the NCIC [fas.org] database, which is used by law enforcement agencies in every jurisdiction.

      M.A.T.R.I.X. appears to go far beyond what's in NCIC, which is a database of wanted felons or felony suspects. It essentially is an implementation of Total Information Awareness on the state level. It figures that Bushie's brother Jebuzon would be overseeing its implementation, but the article also states that Sen. Bob Graham-- a presidential candidate and a leading critic of the feder

  • Morpheus was considered a dangerous terrorist, wasn't he?
    And the legal status of the agents (as "citizens" of the world simulated by The Matrix) was something like CIA or FBI, wasn't it?

    Wake up, neo! The MATRIX has you!
    We should feel obligated to oppose it!
  • Many states give their officers down to the individual department level access to all sorts of information...types of information on people that have committed absolutely no crime that would make the hardest-line reactionary cringe. They give them mobile data terminals and allow them to view this whenever they want, and for whatever reason they want. Even though there are "laws" against using it against innocent people, it is a minute-by-minute occurence. I know people in the police force that check peop
  • I don't know the procedure to get permission to find all brown haired people that own Fords within 50 miles, but I would think there has to be some kind of safeguards to prevent random lookups without reason. For example, to look up this information the police would need to get authorization from the Chief, the Sheriff, and Judge. Combine it with fingerprints, eye scans, smart cards, whatever.

    If anyone can go to a computer, type in their search criteria, and come up with that info, it will be abused. If m
  • Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by borgasm ( 547139 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:53AM (#6626132) Journal
    In 1999, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI suspended information service contracts with an earlier Asher-run company because of concerns about his past, according to law enforcement sources. The Chicago Tribune reported in 1987 that court documents in a federal drug case said defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who identified Asher as a pilot and onetime smuggler, offered him as an informant.
    Jennie Khoen, a spokeswoman for the Florida department, said yesterday that the agency knew about Asher's "history with drug smuggling," including his work as an informant. Moore said his department "knew about Mr. Asher's past."


    Maybe Asher can watch the fox guarding the hen house while he's at it....
  • Agreement? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by W33dz ( 643133 )
    Although I hate to say it, I have to say that they have a good point here. The need for a tool to help law enforcement is unquestioned. The only problem that most of us seem to have is the use of this tool.
    The states already have access to all this data. The only difference now is that they will be able to access it more quickly. I cannot see how that will be any worse than what we already have.
    Unfortunately, what we already have is proof that this tool will not be used in the utopian manner than the desi
  • Calling this thing MATRIX *DOES* show a particular level of incompetence behind it.

    Seriously. They chose a name guaranteed to provoke the most adverse reactions in many people, especially geeks. This indicates either a level of insensitivity or ignorance of popular culture that isn't reassuring.

  • by gatesh8r ( 182908 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:01AM (#6626210)
    I won't join any organizations like the ACLU [aclu.org] to protect my freedoms! NO! I'm going to be an armchair critic and let the government erode my freedoms!
  • by jav1231 ( 539129 )
    So if shared by computer would they call it CompTIA? (okay, that was bad.) JAV
  • by PizzaFace ( 593587 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:04AM (#6626238)
    From the Washington Post:

    The Matrix project began soon after the 2001 attacks. Seisint founder Hank Asher, a wealthy data entrepreneur, called Florida police and claimed he could pinpoint the hijackers and others who might pose a risk of terrorist activity. "Asher says, 'I'll develop this for free,' " Ramer said.


    Working without a contract or pay, Asher set about creating the system in Florida, Ramer said. "We showed it to the other states, and the other states went nuts." ...

    In 1999, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI suspended information service contracts with an earlier Asher-run company because of concerns about his past, according to law enforcement sources. The Chicago Tribune reported in 1987 that court documents in a federal drug case said defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who identified Asher as a pilot and onetime smuggler, offered him as an informant.

    Jennie Khoen, a spokeswoman for the Florida department, said yesterday that the agency knew about Asher's "history with drug smuggling," including his work as an informant.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:07AM (#6626260)
    Last week the news said [pbs.org] airlines were looking at the credit agency and medical insurance reports of every passenger. People with low credit scroes were flagged for additional scrutiny. I guess because these are easy databases to access, not because they are informative.
  • Makes me sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stevedc2000 ( 528489 )
    The more schemes like this that come along, the more I realize that the terrorists that were behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attrocities have, in fact, achieved some of their aims.

    The US (and other western nations) are slowly, but surely, relieving the average citizen of their privacy rights in the interests of 'the war on terror' (such as it is). And of course, it's is our very freedoms (in many things) that the terrorists want to take away - to make us afraid...

    I don't know what the future

  • Whimsical? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zx75 ( 304335 )

    It would let authorities, for instance, instantly find the name and address of every brown-haired owner of a red Ford pickup truck in a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event.

    Matrix is short for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. The name was chosen somewhat whimsically by a Florida law enforcement officer, an agency official said.

    Excuse me? I would have to say that whimsically is not the correct word in this case. Considering the difference in the acronym from MATRIX, I'd have to say that i

  • by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:12AM (#6626300) Homepage
    I just use SLIP through my shell account instead of spending another $20 for PPP access!
  • Looking at the (supposed) past of the guy, and knowing he offered freely its service, I would really search for all kind of backdoor in the source code, If I wear florida official...
  • Name change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ItWasThem ( 458689 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:24AM (#6626409)
    At least they picked a name that should strike the proper level of fear into joe citizen. When it was TIA no one had a clue, it was almost as good as the PATRIOT Act (who could vote against being a patriot right?). But with a name like MATRIX thanks to the media machine people will naturally associate it with total helpless control and loss of basic rights.

    This program will be quickly dropped, the politicians will say it was all that guys idea *point long finger* and it'll come up again under the name "USA FLUFFY BUNNIES AND PEACE ON EARTH FOR EVERYONE Act"

    Vote no on USA FLUFFY BUNNIES AND PEACE ON EARTH FOR EVERYONE!
  • by sdjunky ( 586961 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#6626501)
    States Archive of Terrorist Actions Network
    OR
    S.A.T.A.N

    Yeah... that's it
  • by crazyphilman ( 609923 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:39AM (#6626528) Journal
    On the one hand, anything that helps law enforcement officers track down and lock up criminal types is a Good Thing, and anything that helps them identify something dangerous in progress is also Good.

    BUT,

    On the other hand, there are a wide range of different kinds of cops, and at least half of them aren't the sort of people who should BE cops. They're like the dickhead who used to cruise around my neighborhood on the fourth of july, "confiscating" everyone's fireworks and bringing them home to his own kids, or the cop who keeps a "drop gun" handy in case he fucks up and shoots the wrong person, or the cops who you hear about from time to time, who shake down hookers and drug dealers for their own piece of the pie (pardon the pun).

    The problem is, cops are people. And, like all people, some are good and some are bad. Some are REALLY bad. Put a tool like this in their hands, without sufficient top-down control (and you know, they're just going to give that lip service) and at least some of the cops entrusted with this will misuse it. Regularly. Perhaps often.

    Another problem is, there's a real "us vs. them" mentality among cops, so even if one cop finds out another cop is, say, digging around in his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend's records, it's unlikely anything will be done about it. Cops don't "rat" each other out, ok? They just don't. Do you really think a bunch of good old boys are going to keep an eye on each other? What'll really happen is, "Joe won't snitch on Bob for fucking with the guy who 'stole' Bob's girl, if Bob doesn't snitch on Joe for checking up on the hot babe who lives in his building". And, Joe and Bob will keep on misusing their power, as has happened throughout history.

    For that reason, I'm against this utterly.

  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:46AM (#6626599) Homepage Journal
    Asher has also donated services to the FBI, the Secret Service and other agencies. And authorities credit Seisint with helping to turn up links among the hijackers who slammed planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and to some of their associates.

    1) If this statement is indeed true, then my first question is "Were the links apparent before, or after the terrorist attacks".

    a) If the answer is "before", then why didn't these paragons of virtue say something and save ~3000 lives?

    b) If the answer is "after", then the system is worthless as an intelligence tool. The bits and pieces of any conspiracy are always out in the public before an incident occurs. The value of intelligence analysis is the ability to merge these apparently unrelated pieces of information to reach a conclusion. If their system is only capable of making a link after an event, then Florida residents better keep an eye on their wallets.

    Here, I'll do the same thing without their database: 'The Japanese were responsible for
    bombing Pearl Harbor.'

    Pretty neat, huh?

    2) Who goes to jail if the system is used for political surveillance?

    a) Considering the system can be abused (a point that even supporters admit is possible), who will be responsible for rouge elements within a state government that use the system to collect information on political activists who disagree with a sitting administration?

    b) Does anyone really believe that Nixon DIDN'T use the IRS and FBI to spy on anti-war activists during Viet Nam?

    This system, however worthy it is in stopping potential violent acts, is too dangerous a tool to be placed in the hands of politicians.

  • by g0hare ( 565322 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:47AM (#6626614)
    Cops are always honest and unbribe-able (sp?). Besides the US government has never abused any of its powers.

    And the government needs to know your credit rating. Because if you are poor you are a criminal in America today. If you are poor you might have motivation to commit a crime, rich people don't commit crimes because they're already rich.
  • by ad0gg ( 594412 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:49AM (#6626631)
    The problem is the commercial databases that are for sale. I'm more concerned about getting my info off these databases. I want my privacy, actually I demand my privacy.
  • my experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <swiftheart&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:55AM (#6626694)
    I've done lots of privacy work, especially concerning driver's license privacy.

    About a year and a half ago, a well known local school board member (known for being very troublesome to other school board members, but extremely well respected and liked by the voters in his community) had an article printed about him in the newspaper saying that he had two driver's licenses.

    The question was, how did they find out he had two licenses, since license data is protected by both state and national law. Unless the DMV actually had decided to take action against him (which they had not) someone with access to the database must have called up the paper.

    So I called him up, and he said a few days before the article came out, he and his daughter were pulled over. His daughter was driving, but they were in a rented car, so the officer wanted to see his license, because he rented the car. The officer recognized who he was, talked about their military records, and let them on their way. So the hypothesis was that this officer then scanned through the computer, and found the two licenses, and called up the newspaper--which is where the violation of law occurred.

    (With regard to the two licenses, the person claimed that it was an error on the part of the DMV. The two records had two different SSNs.)

    Anyway, so I did the obvious. Based on freedom of information act, we asked the DMV and the state highway patrol (who runs the computer that the cops use in this state) to give us the data on who accessed the license records and when (a simple record request.)

    The DMV cooperated immediately...and nothing of consequence there...they checked his license(s) records when the local newspaper called, to confirm whether or not he did have two licenses (an act which may have violated DPPA (driver's privacy protection act) but that hasn't been determined yet.)

    The state highway patrol said that they didn't have to give up their records. Well, I checked through everything I could, but I couldn't find a single place which gave them that authority (though they claimed it.) They said they would perform an internal investigation, and give us the results of that investigation, but would redact the information concerning whom actually looked at his license(s) records.

    The story ends there, more or less. The school board member decided that this issue wasn't worth pursuing, given time and resources. And he felt that he already caused enough trouble.

    (Actually the story ends this way...two agents of the DMV came to his house and told him that if he gives up the two licenses, they will just reissue him one license at the DMV and that will be that. I don't need to tell you that this is pretty irregular behavior by the DMV (they didn't even charge him) but even with all the time I spend researching the DMV, I can't figure out why they did it.)

    I guess the point is, the ability to get auditing records of such a database is vital for making sure it's being used correctly. When a state agency refuses to give up auditing records on yourself, it implies that a need for greater oversight on how they operate.

    (My signature talks about my current driver's license privacy project in New Jersey...I wanted yall to know that it didn't happen in NJ, but in Ohio.)
  • by diabolik333 ( 663840 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:56AM (#6626703)
    Well, at least a drug-smuggling-pilot-turned-snitch is a somewhat better person to have in charge of all of our personal information than Disgraced Iran-Contra Felon John Poindexter (as El Reg tends to call him... or something similar).

    Anyone who can remember back to the year 2000 knows that the State of Florida can certainly be trusted to handle millions of documents in an appropriate fashion.
  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:02PM (#6626751) Homepage
    "Ass pirates off the starboard bow, ARRRRR!"
  • by clutchperformer ( 598536 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:09PM (#6626801)
    My state's IT people are too incompetent and/or mismanaged to get a single decent IT project completed. I'd say 90% of IT and software design is a total waste in state gov't.

    Even if they could get their act together, the house and senate can't sustain funding for them even when there's plenty of money, much less when they are Billions in the red.

    Using outside firms, known for cashing in on lucrative cushy government contracts while producing virtually nothing, only compounds the problem.

    What makes you think they can make this work?

    What will result is a system that will track law abiding people while clever "grifters" and "criminals" short circuit the system, or worse, use the system as a means to further their agenda.

    When an incompetent but well-intentioned government spies on their own, they end up exposing to danger the very people they are sworn to protect.

    In the U.S., not much talent gravitates to the government sector when fortunes can be made elsewhere.
  • Scapegoat creator (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:47PM (#6627053) Homepage Journal
    As I read in a previous Slashdot posting, all this system will do is make it very easy to create a scapegoat.

    As we all know, eyewitnesses are *terrible* at reporting facts. (Google it if you don't believe me).

    So, if you're looking for an Arab male, 20-30, in the LA area, driving a red pick-up truck, this database will turn up 20 matches. Found your guy, right?

    Wrong. While you're rounding up innocents for heat-lamp questioning, the 25-year-old Phillipino has ditched the stolen truck and is hightailing it to another state.

  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:48PM (#6627064)
    Calling this thing MATRIX *DOES* show a particular level of incompetence behind it.


    No it doesn't, I'm afraid. I wish it did, but this is in fact quite deliberate.

    By seeing something as overt as this but letting it go, the public is subconsciously, (and not even very subconsciously at that), chosing to accept subserviance. The level of overt control is raised slowly, and the public lets it go at each level, until they have attained a completly defeated slave mentality.

    The aim of the current war being waged by government against Americans is not to overtly defeat the populace. It's to lead the populace into a state of self-defeat.

    That's how it works. --If they push too far with one attack, (Like this MATRIX shit), and the people start getting rowdy, then they'll immediately pull back and say, "Sorry, Sorry. Didn't mean it, we won't do it. --Well, except for maybe these little parts here and here." And then they'll try again in two weeks with something else. You cannot get them to stop, and you will not be able to find a rational agreement through legislation, because the enemy is not seeking balance; it is seeking total domination and it will not stop pushing and pecking until it has achieved its ends. The public, though dull-witted, is for the most part 'good and reasonable' which means that it will continue to act in good faith. Psychopaths, like Bush are not human and so they will never act in good faith. It's like a diode. The current goes in one direction only. You don't play cards with psychos.

    There are exactly three responses one can take to this kind of tactic:


    1. Haul the heads of government out of their offices and hang them all for high treason.

    2. Get out of the U.S. before they haul you out of *your* office and send you to a camp. [sianews.com] (Here's another with site with some photos, [apfn.org] --one including a shot of a placard with a date stamp, reading "Jun 00", presumably indicating a construction date shortly after Shrub's election. This particular set of photos is of an un-manned camp, hence the ability to take photos).

    3. Sit on your ass and try to pretend that everything will work out okay until it's too late. See, "Why I did not leave Nazi Germany in Time" [religion-online.org].

    So of those three. . , which are you going to do?


    -FL

  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:55PM (#6627124)
    What utter PR hacks these people are. First TIA, complete with its bizarre, pyramid beams-are-probing-you departmental logo.

    Having had their hands slapped on that one, they instead resort to the lovely "Matrix" acronym -- perhaps (you think?) thinking that it'd be catchy with all those kids who saw the movie... Note to spooks: to the kids who saw the movie, this acronym will not seem cool, it'll just seem unbelievably scary. Criminy.

    Best stick to "Patriot" something-or-other. That's always good. Red white and blue for the logo this time... With the people in the image depicted in nifty flight suits. Ah, soothes the worry.

  • by the-build-chicken ( 644253 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @05:29PM (#6629295)
    Government coders all over the country marvelled at the cutting edge technology used

    select user_name from everyone where last_purchase = 'box cutter';
  • Unstoppable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wfrp01 ( 82831 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:15PM (#6629548) Journal
    I'm as anti TIA call up pictures of my mom on a whim as anyone. But I'm pro-technology. In other discussions (p2p, for example) I often argue that the luddites should get out of the way. Technology is progress! If you're not with us, then you are a candlemaker in the age of electricity. Too bad for you.

    I think the same argument applies here. Like it or not, using databases to correlate huge repositories of information is just not that difficult. It's going to happen. How can it be stopped?

    Are there any constitutional provisions protecting us from such technology? Not that I know of. Quite frankly, the constitution is rather ambiguous on the subject of your privacy. Witness the recent bruhaha vis-a-vis sodomy in Texas for example. In that case the Supreme court came down on the side of privacy. How the supremes feel about your medical records, your social security number, your photograph, your fingerprints, your school record, your criminal record, your address, etc. has yet to be determined. It's not so clear that anything in the US constitution protects you from the potential abuses inherent to correlating all that information. The constitution proper primarily concerns itself with what the goverment can do. The Bill of Rights primarily concerns itself with what the government cannot do. As far as I know, there's nothing in there that says the government can't make a database. Funny, it probably never occured to them.

    On the other hand, the constitution doesn't protect you from the abuses inherent to giving everyone ready access to gasoline, either. Are you afraid of gasoline?

    So here's an idea. If the government is going to create vast databases of information about its citizens - fine. But make those databases public. The problem is one of power. If only a few people have access, they have too much power. Give *everyone* access. It's not o.k for John Poindexter to look up pictures of my mom on a whim. But it's o.k. if anyone in the world can do so.

    The truth is the truth. Who's afraid of the truth? The biggest lotto winner who gave millions to churches just had hundreds of thousands of dollars recovered behind the dumpster of the brothel he was visiting. That's the truth. You can read it in the papers. Throw open the bathroom doors! What you do with yourself is the Truth! Let it show, baby!

    Yeah, whatever. I want to poop in private. I believe its my right to do so. I want to fuck in private too. And talk to my doctor about my vascectomy in private. I want my school records to remain private. I want my criminal record, meager as it may be, to remain private also. But I want to know if my neighbor is a child molester.

    My main point is - this is goddamn complicated issue. And I'm getting pretty sick of the typical slashdot rhetoric. I'm not one to post statements to /. about how people how post statements to /. are idiots. Those people truly are. But come on. I don't think the issue or answers here are at all obvious. They are worthy of deep thoughtful discussion. So screw on your thinking caps, and the next time this topic comes up (probably within the next 24 hours) try to add some depth to the conversation. This is a great forum in which to do so. Slashdot is read by millions. Take advantage. Get some good ideas out there. God knows we need them.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

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