Stuck in the Middle

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

One reason Identity Resolution Daily began two years ago was to create a venue to address privacy/security controversies. Because we supply and support core technology used in DHS’s Secure Flight program that performs airline passenger watch list matching, we established a vehicle to discuss how powerful technology can help the country be more secure while simultaneously protecting privacy.

The discussion rages on: how can we balance society’s competing needs for privacy and security? Fusion centers were created to increase the collaboration and effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in combating crime and terrorism, but now we see privacy groups and legislatures (among others) pitted against each other, and guess who’s caught in the middle? Those enforcing the law.

From wikipedia, “a Fusion Center is a terrorism prevention and response center” that gathers “information not only from government sources, but also from their partners in the private sector. They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the CIA, FBI and Department of Justice) and at the state and local level.”

A concept developed as a response to the events of 9/11, the objective of fusion centers is to coordinate law enforcement efforts to prevent future terrorist events. While 58 state and local fusion centers have been implemented, standardization is lacking when it comes to how they operate and what they focus on.

Of course, any effort that deals with personal information produces the potential for abuse. Recent news stories have raised cries from both the left and right ends of the political spectrum, resulting in some strange partnerships.

So where do we fall on this issue? You might say we’re stuck in the middle. Like law enforcement agencies, we’re trying to do our job as best we can. In the case of the agencies, it’s catching the bad guys before they do damage, yet without infringing on citizens’ privacy. For us, that means supplying software that allows them to do just that.

One Response to “Stuck in the Middle”

  1. Francois Wolf Says:

    The debate between freedom and security is as old as the democratic ideal. As one of the pillars of individual freedom, privacy is a matter of capital concern for citizens in all free societies. Modern terrorism, with its willingness to break the most basic rules of human behavior, poses a special challenge to leaders who can apply advanced knowledge that may be effective but may also undermine some of our basic democratic values. Technology like identity resolution, developed and deployed by responsible and moral leaders can safeguard privacy while substantially “hardening” our societies as targets for evildoers. The same way that a missile launch sequence can be designed in a way that makes an unauthorized firing virtually impossible, the same way protocols can be created to make privacy a top concern while scanning massive amounts of personal data for people for whom freedom is abhorrent. Technology experts that are on the front lines of the defense of our societies need to cultivate strength and good judgment as they handle the double-edged swords developed to guarantee the survival of our ideals. It’s a mission that is full of pitfalls but one that must be carried out. No one ever said that Democracy is a suicide pact.

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