Archive for the ‘datalust’ Category

We would require all U.S. citzens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud proof Social Security card. Each card’s unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone’s information.” – Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer

BTC- I hope someone will tell these Senators there was already a billion dollar effort to create a national to international FBI database
to house the most comprehensive biometric catalogue in the United States. It is 2 football fields long and the public is not allowed to know where it is. How’s that for “transparency”? It’s been around since 2007.

Unfortunately, the term “transparency” is being twisted around against the American people not to mean “government accountability” but somehow to mean a super institutionalized state. In this type of state the only rights of the nation are the institutional rights and permissions granted by that state. Everyone is exactly equal: prisoners, immigrants, workers and government workers. This is the piece where the biometric worker ID card fits.

[Was this your idea of freedom, America?]

It’s part of the Always On Surveillance Society and it might make you wonder if the 2010 Census is just a dog and pony show. It’s globalized policy; which makes it more important than ever that you guard your private information and do everything you can to jamm up any assumptive networks using your 4th Amendment.

Unfortunately, fascism is commonly defined as Statist power as corporations rule the government, which legislates only for them and seeks only their interests.

VIDEO: Your Papers, Please: What the Real ID Act means for New York


Since the passage of the PATRIOT Act, pervasive citizen surveillance and data collection have been combined as part of an ambitious effort to coordinate national security efforts. Many state governments are in the process of developing warehouses for private and public information in centralized digital hubs called fusion centers, over 70 of which have already been established around the country.

One fusion center of considerable size and concern is the North Central Texas Fusion Center (NCTFS). According the NCTFS, their fusion system user base has expanded to 125 North Central Texas agencies and a centralized hub located in Austin with access to 90 million database records, including open source data. The fusion center intends to allow national security employees to access their user base from remote locations.

According to an ACLU report:

The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector.

Moreover, there are serious questions about whether data fusion is an effective means of preventing terrorism in the first place, and whether funding the development of these centers is a wise investment of finite public safety resources. Yet federal, state and local governments are increasing their investment in fusion centers without properly assessing whether they serve a necessary purpose.

The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) is one agency currently responsible for consolidating data from all Texas State agencies into one digital location. The DIR’s consultants, EquaTerra, recently found major defects with IBM’s performance towards the consolidation. One original intention was to save the state money by simply streamlining the data into one location, but it seems IBM has proven unable to fulfill the terms of its contract.

While it is not clear how the information will continue to be used, stored, managed, or disseminated, it is clear that the project is failing standards of efficiency and the flailing project is now costing taxpayers $863 million.

In an effort to solve the problem, the DIR recently decided to reach out to the public for comment. Texans are now being asked to offer input to determine whether moving forward with the data consolidation effort is in their best interests. Texans concerned with the continuance of local fusion center data aggregation should contact the following State officials to document their input:

Governor Rick Perry
Advisor to Department of Information Resources
ATTN: Ed Robertson
Phone: (512) 463-1782

DIR Public Information Office
ATTN: Thomas Johnson
P.O. Box 13564
Austin, TX 78711-3564
Fax: (800) 464-1218
Phone: (512) 936-6592

The Peoples’ Campaign for the Constitution’s legal professionals affinity group is pursuing a systematic investigation of fusion centers around the country, with the assistance of lawyers, law students, and paralegals volunteering their time to (a) submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (a model of which has been developed by students at Yale Law School), (b) litigate potential refusals by state governments to disclose requested documents, and/or (c) review responsive documents through a decentralized online process.

If you are a lawyer, law student, or paralegal willing to volunteer time for citizen oversight of domestic spying, please sign up for our legal professionals group and we’ll be in touch.

“For me and my family,” said Beleno,

“No, you can’t have our DNA.”


National DNA Database

In 2006 and 2007, then, Senator Obama, filed legislation that would create a national DNA database. The same bill was filed by Sen. Patrick Kennedy in 2008 . The bills required parental consent, but all three died in the Senate.

Study finds support by some parents

Not everyone is opposed to collecting, storing and using DNA from the newborn screening program for later use. A study by the University of Michigan found that when asked for consent, only 24 percent of parents objected to using their newborns blood samples for research. That number jumped to 72 percent of parents who were somewhat or very unwilling when asked if the samples could be used without permission.

Andrea Beleno said she may have consented, if asked. But after seeing how the State of Texas has handled the issue, her mind is made up.

“For me and my family,” said Beleno, “No, you can’t have our DNA.”

So far, more than 8,200 other families have made that same decision to opt out of allowing the state to use their child’s genetic material.

BTC – Observe use of the word “flogging”. IBM has a long troubled history of being associated with datalust. The computing giant’s public-private program is ailing and privacy advocates are being asked directly for input.

c/o Austin

Data center deal unsustainable, examiner says.

“If IBM isn’t making money and (the Department of Information Resources) and the state agencies aren’t getting good service, it is not going to be successful,” said Glenn Davidson of the consulting firm EquaTerra.

The developments Friday come three years after the state awarded the massive contract to IBM to modernize and consolidate state data centers that house servers and mainframe computers. The objective was to reduce costs and safeguard data during disasters or terrorist attacks. State agencies quickly began complaining of problems, including poor service, data losses and additional expenses.

IBM spokesman Jeff Tieszen said Friday that substantial progress has been made in some areas and reiterated that the company is committed to the success of the project.

While the price tag of the project won’t change, the responsibilities of IBM and its deadlines will, Robinson said. The specifics will be negotiated in a new agreement with IBM that is expected to be worked out by February.

The original seven-year contract, which began in 2007, was sold as a way to save the state $176 million by merging the data center operations of 27 state agencies into two upgraded and streamlined facilities.

While that concept is still sound, EquaTerra found that the contract and its implementation were fundamentally flawed, and both the state and IBM share the blame.

First, everyone underestimated how old and obsolete the state’s existing technology was.

Next, the contract was based on a “one-size-fits-all” approach that ignored the particular needs of individual agencies.

That led to frustration, with almost all the agencies’ information technology directors saying this past spring that they were dissatisfied with IBM’s service.

Under the revised contract, the state agencies involved will be given more control over the process to ensure that their needs are met and that they are more invested in the project’s success, Robinson said.

“The agencies should be helping to drive this initiative, not just be customers of (the Department of Information Resources),” Davidson said.

John Cox, chief information officer for the Texas Education Agency, said the consultant’s independent assessment has been “sorely needed.”

Cox said he is optimistic that “all of the players are on board moving to get this turned around.”

In addition to the agency’s complaints, IBM has endured a public flogging for many problems it attributes to poor conditions inherited from the state.

Morale is low. Turnover is high. And the relationship was dysfunctional from the start, the consultant found.

“State agencies, DIR and IBM team members involved in using, managing and delivering the services are exhausted and highly stressed,” according to the consultant’s report.

“This combination of low morale and intractable issues … has resulted in the emergence of hostile and sometime aggressive behaviors by team members from all sides.”

IBM has been under the gun for over a year to fix the problems.

Last year, Gov. Rick Perry temporarily halted work on the project after a significant loss of data at the attorney general’s office. IBM was warned at the time that its contract could be in jeopardy if the problems were not remedied.

The problems persisted and a 13-day server outage at the secretary of state’s office in August prompted officials to pull the elections system out of the consolidation because of fears that a similar outage could compromise an election.

Robinson, who worked for Perry until taking the interim director position in September, said she would not lay the blame for the problems solely at the feet of IBM or any other participant.

“I’m not going to fingerpoint,” she said.

These kinds of problems are not uncommon for big information technology projects. About two-thirds of such projects fail to meet the stated objectives, bust the budget or miss the deadline, according to oft-cited industry research by the Standish Group called the Chaos Report.

That is true for public and private projects alike, but public sector stumbles tend to happen in the glare of the spotlight.

John Miri, a technology consultant who was previously an executive at the Department of Information Resources, said state technology officials across the country are watching Texas right now.

None of the facts or conclusions in the EquaTerra report is particularly new to anyone who has been working on this problem, and the report acknowledges as much, Miri said.

“What is bold about this report is that DIR is speaking so directly and candidly with the public,” Miri said. “Sharing this type of information with the wider community is going to get people engaged, and that’s a big part of solving this problem.”

What is next for Texas’ $863 million contract with IBM?

Negotiate a new final agreement by February 2010. The scope and timing of the contract will change but not the price tag.

Complete consolidation of the data centers by December 2010.; 445-3618