Monday, October 07, 2002

Report Calls for Plan of Sharing Data to Prevent Terror
Toward that end, the report, "Protecting America's Freedom in an Information Age," strongly endorses giving responsibility for analyzing such information not to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but to a new domestic intelligence center inside President Bush's planned Department of Homeland Security. Legislation to create the department is mired in Congressional wrangling over such issues as whether labor laws should apply to the agency's employees.

The study also calls upon President Bush to devise new guidelines on what information federal agencies may and may not collect about individuals in the United States and with whom, and under what circumstances, such data may be shared.

Finally, it warns that while Washington must play a critical role in gathering and analyzing data aimed at preventing terror, state and local officials will inevitably provide much of the information needed to protect the nation. Information systems that exclude them, or prevent them from receiving and contributing to such federal data, are destined to fail, the study concludes.

Unless information provided by state and local officials, as well as the private sector, is shared with Washington, "we may wind up getting all of the disadvantages of invasion of privacy with none of the national security gains," conclude the task force's co-chairmen, Zoë Baird, the president of the New York-based Markle Foundation, and James L. Barksdale, a businessman and former chief executive of Netscape.