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Walking the Privacy/Security Tightrope

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

By Mike Shultz, Infoglide Software CEO

In a post last April, we talked about the privacy/security balance issue for fusion centers and for vendors with supporting technology. Now an article in the Austin Sunday paper about a proposed fusion center again highlights the tension between security and privacy. Each time a fusion center is proposed, the story goes like this:

“Local law enforcement officials see benefit of two-way information sharing with other local, state, and national agencies… privacy groups are concerned about unnecessary intrusions into personal information.”

As of July 2009, 72 such centers have been put in place and are operational across the country. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the Justice Department, has tried to address the need for consistent operating principles. Starting in 2005, they published and continue to maintain a set of guidelines suggesting how to establish collaboration and data sharing between agencies while protecting the privacy and civil liberties of citizens.

It would be nice to report that every fusion center has performed flawlessly in solving crimes while preserving American freedoms. Given that they are run by human beings, execution at every center hasn’t always fallen within the guidelines. There are instances where the centers have been ineffective, and there are instances where controversial privacy issues have been raised when centers overstepped their bounds.

The Austin American Statesman article presented a balanced view of the issues surrounding fusion centers without sensationalizing them. Instances of controversies surrounding fusion centers were discussed, yet instances of the benefits of existing centers were also given.

As Jack Thomas Tomarchio, former deputy undersecretary for intelligence and analysis operations at DHS was quoted, “These things are brand new. They haven’t been around 20 years, and even the ones that have been around three or four years are still in their formative years. In many cases, they don’t have a track record.”

While existing software technology addresses both privacy and security issues, the ultimate decision to use it wisely falls to the people who run the fusion centers. In the City of Austin case, the concerns of privacy and security seem to be receiving equal consideration so that the best results can be achieved without trampling on civil liberties.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-08-07

Friday, August 7th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Applying Identity Resolution to Patient Identification Integrity

The recently passed economic stimulus plan included $20 billion to encourage adoption of electronic health records by medical facilities across the U.S., spurring a huge amount of activity in the health care world. A key issue in EMR implementation is the integrity of the patient identification process used in creating an enterprise master patient index (EMPI).

KELOLAND.com: Keeping An Eye On The Highways

“South Dakota troopers receive alerts about fugitives and people of interest that may be in the state on a regular basis through a place called the National Fusion Center Network. It’s a Department of Homeland Security agency that funnels information to law enforcement agencies in every state. ‘The information sharing is something that improved after 9/11. I think this is a case where the information sharing paid off,’ Lt. Welsh said.”

HealthData Management: When Will EHR Spending Ramp Up?

“‘The steady drumbeat of inevitability is changing the debate from not ‘if’ we’ll get an electronic health record but ‘when’,’ says Eric Brown, research director at Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass. ‘There’s a tipping point at which we’ll see big growth, but we’re not there yet.’”

YouTube: Bruce Schneier on Secure Flight

Noted security expert Bruce Schneier discusses how TSA’s Secure Flight program has evolved

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-07-31

Friday, July 31st, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Data Finds Data in Real-Time Entity Resolution

“Jeff Jonas of IBM recently quoted from a chapter called “Data Finds Data”  that he co-wrote for a book entitled Beautiful Data: The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions, and I was impressed by how well this passage describes the effective use of entity resolution software (e.g., IRE 2.2)…”

IT-Director.com: GRC is not enough

[Philip Howard]”If you think about these different forms of risk, they can mostly be managed within existing GRC frameworks: business risk, data and IT governance and compliance cover five of these seven types of risk. But they don’t cover fraud or cyber attacks or similar security issues.”

SunSentinel.com: Roofer ducked $400,000 in worker’s comp premiums

“Investigators with the state’s Division of Insurance Fraud said Robert McDonald, owner of Gulfstream Roofing Inc., funneled $3 million in payroll through several fake companies between 2002 and 2006, claiming the money was being paid to insured subcontractors instead of his own workers.”

BNET Healthcare: What Can US Learn From European Health IT Experience?

“The three countries also use universal patient identification numbers in health care. This is much easier to do in Europe than it is in the U.S., where the mistrust of government is so high that the issue of having a single patient identifier number is no longer even under discussion. There’s also the small matter of our low EHR adoption rate, which is less than 20 percent for physicians and lower for hospitals. By contrast, most physicians in the three European countries are using some kind of EHR.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-06-30

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

Francine Hardaway’s Blog: Are There Economies of Scale in Medicine?

“The efficiencies come when a group of physicians are all responsible for a patient’s continuity of care, and when they share information such as that possible with electronic health records (EHRs).”

Insurance & Financial Advisor: Poizner, industry oppose California downgrading of insurance fraud felonies

“‘Reclassifying 73 crimes including ‘false insurance claims’ is a disservice to the consumers and businesses in the state of California,” the letter said. “In addition, taking the power out of the hands of the public prosecutor to charge someone with a felony crime will have a serious impact on public safety.’”

BAM INTEL: A Growing Trend - Fusion Centers Connect Private and Public Sector Thinking

“The private sector owns about 80% of all critical infrastructure, and a communication disconnect could result catastrophically in a disaster scenario.”

The Real Test of Identity Resolution

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

By Robert Barker, Infoglide Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer

So the title “Catching Terrorists and Making the World a Safer Place” certainly caught my eye! And the content of the post did not disappoint, as the author Chris Boorman of Informatica did a great job of crystallizing the issue that drove the creation of this blog over two years ago: “So how do we balance the freedom of movement we have come to expect as hard-working citizens with the need to spot terrorists?” His answer is “technology” and of course we agree.

When Identity Resolution Daily first began in the summer of 2007, we pointed out the constant tension between freedom and privacy versus the need for security:

In the US, the debate between personal privacy (and perhaps liberties in general) versus security is a long-standing one with roots in the very founding of the nation itself. Folks interested in obtaining data often wonder how much people are willing to give up in the name of greater security or convenience. On the other hand, those more focused on privacy worry about how data is obtained, what it’s used for and where it ends up.

Infoglide CEO Mike Shultz also discussed the responsibility that comes with providing technology that deals with identity:

It was important to all of us here that we didn’t create some sort of Big-Brother-enabling technology. As a result, we designed software that can resolve identities across multiple sources while protecting data privacy and security.

The point he made about the design of the software being critical is vital, and The Center for Digital Government’s white paper entitled “Resolving Identity: The Importance of Who’s Who and the Search for the Perfect Engine” delves into what technology can do to answer questions like “who’s who” and “who’s related to whom.”

In a more recent post, we talked about the components needed for an effective identity resolution solution. It’s not enough to have great similarity matching algorithms, and it’s not even enough to be able to find hidden connections in real time across millions of rows of data, although both those capabilities are obviously required. The real test in catching terrorists and making the world a safer place using identity resolution is how decision-making is automated and integrated into existing business processes.

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-06-15

Monday, June 15th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

New England Journal of Medicine: Use of Electronic Health Records in U.S. Hospitals

“The very low levels of adoption of electronic health records in U.S. hospitals suggest that policymakers face substantial obstacles to the achievement of health care performance goals that depend on health information technology.”

Federal Computer Week: Standard updated for reporting suspicious activity

“The changes from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) come as that office continues a pilot program for the SAR information sharing program at sites around the country. The program uses state and local intelligence fusion centers as a node for verifying and disseminating data on suspicious activity through information technology systems.”

Travel Sentry: Secure Flight Q&A

TSA collects as little personal information as possible to conduct effective watch list matching. Also, personal data is collected, used, distributed, stored, and disposed of in accordance with stringent guidelines and all applicable privacy laws and regulations.”

Central Valley Business Times: Three accused of multi-million workers comp fraud

“‘When businesses cheat the system to save money, they are only setting themselves up to pay later — by serving time in prison,’ says state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-06-08

Monday, June 8th, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

Biz-Tech:Insurance fraud claims on the rise

“‘When someone commits insurance fraud they’re not just stealing from insurance companies,’ said Sanger. ‘They’re stealing from fellow customers.’ A recent study from the N.I.C.B. shows property/casualty insurance fraud costs Americans nearly $30 billion each year.”

PCWorld: Push For Electronic Medical Records Must Slow Down, For Security’s Sake

“‘I look forward to medical records going electronic,’ said Howard Schmidt, the former White House cybersecurity czar, ‘but I have a tremendous amount of concern about building a really, really good healthcare infrastructure… and then securing it later.’ Schmidt spoke with PCWorld at RSA 2009.”

IT-Director.com: A Bulldog Puppy Emerges

“Microsoft has moved further in its plans to introduce a master data management (MDM) capability into its product line. Microsoft had previously purchased Stratature, an MDM vendor known for its dimension management, and has used this as the basis for its MDM offering, previously known as Project Bulldog.”

Tampa Bay Online: TSA wants better picture of travelers

“With gender and birth information, the system, known as Secure Flight, will be better able to prevent misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on the watch lists and better identify those who appear to pose a threat, the TSA said.”


Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-06-02

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

By the Infoglide Team

cnet news: What you need to know about e-health records

“Supporters say electronic medical records will boost the quality of medical care, reduce duplication of services, and limit errors, all of which could save money and lives. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine estimates that between 44,000 and 98,000 people in the United States die each year because of errors such as being prescribed medicine to which they are allergic.”

tricityherald.com: Travel restrictions to get tighter June 1

” Beginning June 1, travelers will need either a U.S. passport, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, a U.S. passport card or a trusted traveler card to enter the country through land or seaports. Passports were made mandatory for air travel in 2007.”

Las Vegas Sun: Fusion center’s attention on prevention

“The trio appeared to be doing the kind of photographic surveillance terrorists might do before they strike a target, the officers concluded. So they contacted the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center. The center is run by Metro Police and houses investigators and analysts from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Southern Nevada.”

Destination CRM Blog: Tom Siebel Sends His Regrets

“Our customer data is now more siloed than it ever was, it doesn’t match, and the owners of the respective systems that process it don’t talk to each other much. The single version of the truth has eluded us. We’re still trying to sell customers products they already have.”

Identity Resolution Daily Links 2009-05-29

Friday, May 29th, 2009

[Post from Infoglide] Identity Resolution Featured in IAIABC Journal

“If you’re not familiar with the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards & Commissions (IAIABC), it’s a very active non-profit organization of government agencies that administer workers’ compensation programs in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. In addition to sponsoring a large number of industry events including conferences and training seminars, they publish an excellent journal twice yearly that provides educational articles about education, research, and management of workers’ compensation issues.”

Boston Globe: Electronic health records raise doubt

“Personal health records, such as those offered by Google Health, are a promising tool for patients’ empowerment - but inaccuracies could be “a huge problem,” said Dr. Paul Tang, the chief medical information officer for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who chairs a health technology panel for the National Quality Forum.”

ITBusinessEdge: Master Data Management Can Pay off During M&As

“When companies begin mergers and acquisitions, the focus is always on the financial aspects of the deal first. Bloor Research found that 79 percent of M&A activity ignores IT integration outright. So, for many IT deparments, the real work begins after the ink has dried – a situation that some IT experts believe could contribute to the ridiculously high failure rate of M&As.”

Arizona Republic: Police agencies tout enhanced cooperation

“Just when it seemed there could be no good news about border security, law-enforcement agencies at a national conference in Phoenix engaged in a virtual group hug Wednesday, declaring that they’ve become a team.”

Identity Resolution Featured in IAIABC Journal

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

If you’re not familiar with the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards & Commissions (IAIABC), it’s a very active non-profit organization of government agencies that administer workers’ compensation programs in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. In addition to sponsoring a large number of industry events including conferences and training seminars, they publish an excellent journal twice yearly that provides educational articles about education, research, and management of workers’ compensation issues.

The April issue of IAIABC Journal includes an article authored by Infoglide’s Charles Clendenen. “Introducing Identity Resolution: A New Approach to Workers’ Compensation Fraud” discusses three types of workers’ compensation fraud and how identity resolution (aka entity analytics or entity resolution) is being applied to make the process of finding potential employer fraud easier and more cost-effective.

While medical fraud and employee fraud are significant problems, “employer premium fraud, while less publicized, can involve millions of dollars in unpaid or underpaid premiums and can cause much more damage to the insuring agency.”

Employer premium fraud can take several forms. In order to avoid paying premiums, a company’s owners may illegally classify permanent employees as contractors. Alternately, they may operate for some time without paying their premiums, and then when the insurer is about to take action, they simply shut down the company on paper and reconstitute it under another name. Companies also use this “going out of business” ploy in cases where their experience (or modification) rating has gone up due to multiple injuries, thereby resulting in higher premiums. By reopening as another company, they can effectively reset their experience rating. 

Clendenen goes on to introduce identity resolution technology and discuss its origins, then talks about how it can be applied to solve workers’ comp employer fraud.

While identity resolution technologies can be applied to employee and provider fraud, they are particularly effective at uncovering employer premium fraud. Finding companies who are not registered for workers’ compensation involves comparing databases where companies are advertising themselves as open for business to lists of businesses registered with state workers’ compensation programs. The results can highlight companies who have not registered or are not paying premiums, companies who have changed their name often, and companies involved in hidden contractor/ subcontractor relationships.

The rest of the article talks in more detail about how identity resolution can be applied and the potential return on investment (ROI) agencies can expect.

Click here to read the full article, and to learn more about IAIABC, check out their web site.





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