Friday, September 10, 2010

Information Sharing Environment Notices

Today the Department of Homeland Security published two notices in the Federal Register. The first notice announced the establishment of a new system of records that will be maintained by the Department while the second notice is a required notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) notifying the public that it intends to exempt portions of that new record system from one or more provisions of the Privacy Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement requirements.

The new record system that will be maintained by DHS is the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative System of Records. This will allow currently collected Suspicious Activity Reports from various agencies within DHS to be collected, analyzed and shared. The information is expected to be shared “with authorized participants in the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, including other DHS components, federal departments and agencies, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, and the private sector” (75 FR 55335).

The compilation of the SARS will be authorized as long as those reports meet the established ISE Functional Standard for Suspicious Activity Reporting. According to the program notice that standard “defines an ISE-SAR as official documentation of observed behavior determined to have a potential nexus to terrorism (i.e., to be reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism)” (75 FR 55336).

The exemption to Privacy Act rules is being claimed because some of the information being collected analyzed and disseminated relates “to official DHS national security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence activities, and protective services to the President of the U.S. or other individuals pursuant to Section 3056 and 3056A of Title 18” (75 FR 55291). The NPRM notes that the “exemptions proposed here are standard law enforcement and national security exemptions exercised by a large number of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies” (75 FR 55291).

Public comments on both the establishment of the system of records (Docket DHS-2010-0075) and the claimed law enforcement exemption to provisions of the Privacy Act (Docket DHS-2010-0076) may be filed via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Such comments need to be filed by October 12th, 2010.

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