DATA MINING PROGRAMS
AND OTHER GOVERNMENT USES OF COMMERCIAL DATA
October 16, 2003
COMPUTER ASSISTED PASSENGER PRESCREENING SYSTEM (CAPPS II)
- Initial Privacy Act notice for CAPPS II was issued on January 15, 2003; widely criticized.
- Revised Privacy Act notice was issued for comment on August 1, 2003; the comment period closed September 30, 2003.
- Testing of CAPPS II was suspended in June 2003; testing began again on August 1, 2003.
- An amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill, which was signed into law on October 1, 2003, prohibits CAPPS II expenditures until GAO issues a report stating that CAPPS II has met certain privacy standards. The report is due on February 15, 2004. The amendment also ensures that no passengers are delayed or denied boarding during the testing period.
- The Conference Report on the FAA reauthorization bill (H.Rept. 108-240), issued July 25, 2003, but still pending, contains two provisions relevant to CAPPS II.
1. Section 607 blocks CAPPS II until DHS certifies that the program meets certain privacy standards, and requires a GAO report with privacy recommendations.
2. Section 608, an amendment offered by Senator Wyden, requires that DHS present a report on the privacy and civil liberties implications of CAPPS II within 90 days of enactment.
TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS (TIA)
- On November 22, 2002, Sen. Grassley requested a report from the Pentagon Inspector General on TIA; no response has been forthcoming that CDT is aware of.
- On February 24, 2003, the Wyden amendment prohibiting domestic deployment of TIA passed as part of the omnibus appropriations legislation for FY2003.
- DARPA issued its report on TIA, required by Sen. Wyden's amendment, on May 20, 2003.
- On September 30, 2003, the President signed into law the DOD FY2004 appropriations bill, which zeroed out DARPA funding for TIA. The Conference Report transferred some programs to other parts of DARPA, and noted that the legislation "does not restrict the National Foreign Intelligence Program from using processing, analysis, and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence purposes."
Little information is available about data mining and other commercial data uses at other agencies:
- Documents obtained through FOIA requests show that the FBI's use of "public source" information (including proprietary commercial databases) has increased 9,600% since 1992.
- The Homeland Security Act expressly authorizes DHS to engage in data mining, and DHS has already advertised an R&D data mining contract.
- The Privacy Act applies only to federal "systems of records" Ð it does not apply when the government subscribes to data held by private aggregators.
- Sen. Wyden introduced a bill, the Citizens' Protection in Federal Databases Act, S. 1484, that would require reports from government agencies on their use of commercial data.