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Feature on MATRIX | American Civil Liberties Union

MATRIX

teamlaw.net | Jul 15th 2005

MATRIX

The following bulleted paragraphs are taken from the “FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS” of the ACLU’s, Wayne County, Michigan, Circuit Court case briefly captioned, “WILLIAM MILLIKEN, et al. v. TADARIAL J. STURDIVANT , on file there. We captured these paragraphs because they briefly describe the United States Government’s “MATRIX” program as follows:

  • MATRIX is operated by a private company, Seisint Inc. of Boca Raton , Florida . Upon information and belief, the company was started by data entrepreneur Hank Asher as a marketing firm in 1998, and evolved into a leading purveyor of personal information to corporations, reporters, police and federal investigators. It relied on a supercomputer and software system that tags records about almost every American adult with a unique identifier. According to Robert O'Harrow , Jr , a reporter from The Washington Post , “Seisint's Accurint service, drawing on billions of records, can deliver dossiers online in an instant, including addresses, jobs, assets, voter registration and associates.” ( See LexisNexis to Buy Seisint for $775 million, The Washington Post , July 15, 2005 . Exhibit 9.)
  • Seisint’s database contains “20+ Billion Records from 100’s of sources.” (See Exhibit 1, Tab K; Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, Michigan Briefing, May 8, 2003 .) Upon information and belief, MATRIX’s founder, Hank Asher, was forced to resign after information about his own past came to light: according to Florida police, he was formerly a drug smuggler who had piloted multiple planeloads of cocaine from Colombia to the United States .
  • The MATRIX program, launched in late 2001, was specifically designed to tie together government and commercial databases in order to allow law enforcement officials to conduct detailed searches on particular individuals, and to search for patterns in this data that can identify individuals possibly involved in terrorist or other criminal activity. (See Exhibit 1, Tab H; U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Assistance, Categorical/Discretionary Assistance Progress Report, Grant Number 2003-LD-BX-0001, Reporting Period 7/1/2003 to 12/31/03 .)
  • In addition, the MATRIX system also contains raw intelligence information from other states such as tips about individuals that may be involved in terrorism or have committed some other crime. One of the four objectives of the MATRIX program, as articulated in the original federal grant that funded the program, is to “provide management support to coalition efforts to exchange terrorism and other intelligence information.” (See Exhibit 1, Tab H; U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Assistance, Categorical/Discretionary Assistance Progress Report, Grant Number 2003-LD-BX-0001, Reporting Period 7/1/2003 to 12/31/03 .)
  • In testimony before the U.S. Congress, the MATRIX system was described as combining government records with information from “public search businesses” into a “data warehouse.” In that “data warehouse” dossiers are reviewed by “specialized software” to identify “anomalies” using “mathematical analysis.” This process is described as applying the “terrorism quotient.” If “anomalies” are spotted, the records will be scrutinized by personnel who will search for evidence of terrorism or other crimes. (See Exhibit 1, Tab L; Sole Source Criteria for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX) Project, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, May 2003).
  • The system is also capable of creating a “social networking visualization” on an individual. This function creates a diagram linking any individual to every other individual that they know or have had contact with. (See Exhibit 1, Tab A; Seisint’s FACTS For the MATRIX Project, September 29, 2003.)
  • The collective information and analysis capabilities of the MATRIX program are confidential and unavailable through normal police channels. It contains a vast array of noncriminal information on the citizens of Michigan including information that is speculative, inaccurate and possibly constitutionally protected.

We are especially concerned with such a case as this one is copied from because it goes on to promote that there is a place for the collection of such data if the people have the reserved right to scrutinize, what is collected and how it is used. Our opinion is quite different, believing there are no circumstances where the broad collection and intermingling of personal data between states and commercial enterprises should be allowed. For more information click this link: MATRIX

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