Daily Archives: September 13, 2007

Misadventures of Federal Data-Mining Programs

After spending $42 million since 2003 developing a data-mining software tool known as the Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly scrapped it after investigators found that it was tested with information about real people without required privacy safeguards.

ADVISE was developed at the Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest national laboratories to be used by components of DHS such as Immigration, Customs, Border protection, Biological Defense and its Intelligence office.

In March the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that “the ADVISE tool could misidentify or erroneously associate an individual with undesirable activity such as fraud, crime or terrorism.” The GAO also said the public should be notified by the DHS about how an individual’s personal information would be verified, used and protected before implementing ADVISE on live data.

Since then, the DHS Inspector General and the DHS Privacy Office discovered that tests conducted with ADVISE were using live data about real people instead of made-up data for one to two years without meeting privacy requirements.

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