Homeland Security chief proposes screening of customer data

The secretary of the Homeland Security Department on Tuesday proposed a screening system that would require companies to retain information about their customers but only require them to surrender information filtered by software.

"One of the proposals that was floated and shot down before I got here was screening for protection," Secretary Michael Chertoff said in answering a question posed by a member of the department's privacy committee.

"Instead of the government retaining data, and collecting it, we would screen against the data, [using a] civilian name, pinging it against a private database and then having the private data holder who has it anyway say 'yea' or 'nay, 'red flag' or 'green flag.' ... That might be a model for some kind of data-retention issue."

Chertoff spoke at a meeting of the Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, a group of government executives and private-sector volunteers who meet regularly to formulate Homeland Security's privacy policies. His was answering a question from committee member Jim Harper, the information policy studies director at the Cato Institute.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed the issue in January at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Financial Times reported that Mueller said, "There can be standardized regulations and rules relating to data retention and secondly a mechanism for the swift exchange of information."

The European Union in December enacted a directive that requires all EU nations to require telecommunications companies to save certain call records and Internet logs for up to two years, and to make them available to law enforcers. The new law must be implemented within the next year-and-a-half.

Chertoff acknowledged that some might view his suggestion as "anti-privacy." But he argued that such proposals should be vetted more thoroughly for their trade-offs before they are dismissed.

"It's too easy to say something is pro-privacy or anti-privacy. ... Some of these are simply trade-offs on different elements of privacy," he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.