Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 8, 2006

Chertoff suggests new model for screening

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Privacy and Security — by Christian Beckner on March 8, 2006

National Journal’s Technology Daily reported yesterday on the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee meeting, noting comments by Sec. Chertoff on a new model for screening:

The secretary of the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday proposed a screening system that would require companies to retain information about their customers but only require them to surrender information filtered by software.

“One of the proposals that was floated and shot down before I got here was screening for protection,” Secretary Michael Chertoff said in answering a question posed by a member of the department’s privacy committee.

“Instead of the government retaining data, and collecting it, we would screen against the data, [using a] civilian name, pinging it against a private database and then having the private data holder who has it anyway say ‘yea’ or ‘nay, ‘red flag’ or ‘green flag.’ … That might be a model for some kind of data-retention issue.”

The article then looks briefly at the context for this discussion, noting a recent EU directive on data retention. And it ends with Chertoff discussing the privacy implications of this proposal:

Chertoff acknowledged that some might view his suggestion as “anti-privacy.” But he argued that such proposals should be vetted more thoroughly for their trade-offs before they are dismissed.

“It’s too easy to say something is pro-privacy or anti-privacy. … Some of these are simply trade-offs on different elements of privacy,” he said.

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