Privacy concerns might freeze program profiling terrorism suspects

October 11, 2011
FedCyber Wire, Technology
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering whether to halt part of a program that probes profiles of suspects for links to terrorist activity, after federal auditors found the scope of the initiative violates privacy guidelines, according to a government report released Friday afternoon.

The Pattern Analysis and Information Collection program, or ICEPIC, lets agents search data on individuals under investigation to find nonobvious relationships that could indicate illegal activities or terrorist plots. Within a couple of months after ICEPIC’s launch in 2008, ICE expanded the $150 million program with a new service to let outside analysts also conduct inquiries. But a privacy review that dictates how the program must handle personal information prohibited external access, stated the Government Accountability Office report.

The service “provides functionality that is explicitly excluded in the approved privacy impact assessment,” David A. Powner, GAO director for information technology and management issues, wrote in the report. The study examined privacy protections for data-mining programs throughout ICE’s parent agency, the Homeland Security Department.

via Nextgov, continued here.