House committee chair wants info on cancelled DHS data-mining programs
Millions have been spent on work that was eventually abandoned
Computerworld - Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to provide a detailed listing of all IT programs that have been canceled, discontinued or modified because of privacy concerns.
He also asked for details on the amount of money the DHS spent on each program, the names of contractors who were awarded the projects, and information about the measures being taken to address privacy issues.
Thompson's demand was prompted by the recent cancellation of the agency's Analysis Dissemination Visualization Insight and Semantic Insight (ADVISE) data-mining program, which was shelved because of privacy concerns after $42 million had been poured into it. In a letter to Chertoff yesterday, Thompson expressed concern about the "apparent litany" of DHS programs that have been canceled or otherwise modified after millions of dollars have been spent because of a failure to assess their privacy ramifications early on.
DHS officials could not be reached for comment.
Pointing to the ADVISE program, Thompson noted that the data-mining tool could have helped the DHS and law enforcement agencies sift through large volumes of data to identify terrorists. However, a report by the department's inspector general showed that the DHS's privacy office did not even know that an ADVISE pilot program had been implemented using live data, Thompson noted in his letter.
The same inspector general's report also noted that ADVISE program managers did not even begin the first step in the privacy assessment process until "one to two years after the systems had been deployed," Thompson said. "What is particularly bothersome about the cancellation of ADVISE is that this is not an isolated failure. To the contrary, the department has spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on projects and programs without first thoroughly evaluating the legal basis for the program and determining whether the operation of the program will violate the privacy rights of Americans."
Over the last three years, four such programs were canceled after millions of dollars were spent on them, he said. If the programs were still operational, they would have violated the privacy rights of millions of Americans he said.
The programs listed in Thompson's letter included the following:
- The $100 million Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II program. CAPPS II was designed to use commercial databases and intelligence data to identify potential terrorists before they boarded commercial aircraft. It was shut down in August 2004 because of privacy concerns.
- The Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (or Matrix) pilot project, which was shut down in April 2005 after $8 million had been sunk into it. Matrix did not garner the public support it needed because of its lack of privacy safeguards.
- The Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight effort, which was suspended in February 2006 after the Government Accountability Office discovered 144 known security vulnerabilities in the program. At the time it was suspended, the DHS had already spent about $140 million, and at least another $80 million was needed for proposed privacy and security improvements.
Read more about Business Intelligence/Analytics in Computerworld's Business Intelligence/Analytics Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts