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Dept. of Homeland Security Releases 2012 Privacy Report

Kaye Beach

September 28, 2012

Th report touts small improvements but bigger problems are revealed.

EPIC the Electronic Privacy Information Center reports;

The Department of Homeland Security has released its 2012 Privacy
Office Annual Report to Congress. The report details the expansion of
the National Counterterrorism Center’s five-year retention policy for
records on US Persons, the agency’s social media-monitoring initiatives,
and privacy training for fusion centers personnel; however, it does not
discuss several new DHS-funded initiatives, including the Future
Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, a “Minority-Report”-like
proposal for “pre-crime” detection. Also, according to the report the
Transportation Security Administration has still failed to adopt
privacy safeguards for airport body scanners.

Two DHS Privacy Office investigations led to the finding of agency non-
compliance. One of those investigations involved DHS’s use of social
media monitoring. EPIC filed a FOIA request on DHS’ social media
monitoring program in April 2011, then filed suit against DHS in
December 2011 in order to force the disclosure of documents related
to the monitoring program, which searched for both suspicious
“keywords” and dissent against government programs. Earlier in 2012,
Congress held an oversight hearing on the DHS social media monitoring
program, and cited the documents obtained by EPIC.

While the report acknowledges agency shortcomings, it also touts DHS
privacy and transparency training as well public engagement through
speaker series, a redesigned FOIA site, and quarterly privacy advocacy
meetings. Significantly, the report fails to address the lack of timely
notice-and-comment rulemakings, particularly the TSA’s lack of
rulemaking on body scanners, ordered by a court in 2011 in response to
a suit brought by EPIC.

The report discusses DHS’ increased use of Privacy Compliance Reviews
(PCRs), which cover programs including cybersecurity, information
sharing, and the use of social media. The DHS Privacy Office used these
reviews to fail eight of its own agency programs for their lack of
privacy compliance documentation. None of the eight programs are
identified in the report, nor are any details of their lack of privacy
compliance.

The DHS Chief Privacy Office must present annual reports to Congress
and is also required by law to ensure that new agency programs do not
diminish privacy in the US.

DHS Privacy Office:  2012  Annual Report to Congress (Sept. 2012)
http://epic.org/redirect/092812-dhs-2012-privacy-report.html

EPIC:  DHS Privacy Office
http://epic.org/privacy/dhs-cpo.html

EPIC:  Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST)
http://epic.org/privacy/fastproject/

EPIC:  Fusion Centers
http://epic.org/privacy/fusion/

EPIC:  EPIC v. DHS (Social Media Monitoring)
http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/

EPIC:  EPIC v. DHS (Suspension of Body Scanner Program)
http://epic.org/redirect/092812-epicvdhs-scannersuspend.html

 

Volume 19.18                                       September 28, 2012
———————————————————————–

Published by the
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Washington, D.C.

http://www.epic.org/alert/epic_alert_19.18.html

“Defend Privacy. Support EPIC.”
http://epic.org/donate

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