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News Link • Surveillance

DHS & FBI Merge Data Creating Database of Secret Watch Lists

This newly proposed DHS Watchlist Service will combine four different DHS systems of records including the TSA-managed [9] Transportation Security Threat Assessment System [10] and TSA's Secure Flight [11] Records,Treasury Enforcement Communication System (TECS) managed by Custom and Border Protection (CBP) Passenger Systems Program Office [12], andIDENT [13] which is managed by the US-VISIT [14] Program. In case you were unaware, according to the July 13th testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security [15], the US-VISIT's IDENT is "fully interoperable" with the FBI's "10-fingerprint-based" identity system to run against the watchlist and the "FBI's entire criminal master file of over 69 million identities in near real time." The DHS proposal did not please the Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC then led a coalition of privacy groups and civil rights organizations to file a protest to Homeland Security's plan to centralize and expand access to the FBI's suspected terrorist database. The privacy groups are challenging Homeland Security's plan to change the Watchlist Service [16], "a secretive government database filled with sensitive information. The agency has solicited comments[17] on the program, which entails developing a real-time duplicate copy of the database and expanding the groups and personnel with immediate access to the records." The statement filed by EPIC and the other privacy and civil right groups [18] [PDF], points out that DHS has admitted that it "does not control the accuracy of the information in system of records" and that "individuals do not have an opportunity to decline to provide information." Additionally, the DHS Watchlist Service attempts to circumvent privacy protections established by the Privacy Act. Congress previously found that "the privacy of an individual is directly affected by the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information by Federal agencies. Congress also emphasized that "the right to privacy is a personal and fundamental right protected by the Constitution of the United States."

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