Future Crimes

MATRIX

“If a man can look around this mad slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell you that man is a noble creature, believe me, that man is full of bull shit”.
– Howard Beale

The Register describes “future crime” technology being sold to the US Justice Department, MATRIX. The Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, a national database of civilian information, accessible only to law enforcement via secure fiber, is loosing support, reports The Register. Utah pulled out this March.

That leaves just Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

After Congress prohibited funding for Terrorism Information Awareness project, TIA was shut down, so the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security came up with MATRIX, which combines public and confidential databases into a new crime-fighting tool.

MATRIX uses Seisint, in Boca Raton, Fla., and their MetaCarta search engine hosted on supercomputers to search through billions of documents for name, place, and time reference.

Utah ACLU also claims the documents make it clear that Utah “was a driving force behind the project.” The terror scoring capability (HTF, High Terrorist Factor) was intended by the company which designed MATRIX, Seisint, to predict people’s tendency to commit a crime. In initial demonstrations Seisint produced a list of 120,000 people with high terrorist factor scores. This was compiled from public and private records covering ethnicity, age, gender and “proximity to dirty address” (see report, Salt Lake Tribune).

Miraculously, this list turned out to include five of the September 11th hijackers – impressive, huh? Well it appears to have impressed the DoJ. But there are just a couple of slight snags here. Several years later most of the remaining “terror suspects” still haven’t done anything, so it’s kind of difficult to see how MATRIX, had it existed early enough, could have been used to pick up that particular five out of the 120,000.

“Assuming they have, in fact, abandoned the terrorist quotient, there’s nothing that stops them from bringing it back, ” said Barry Steinhardt, of the ACLU on CNN.

The massive storehouse of personal information is accessible only to law enforcement via secure fiber but the credibility of the system was called into question when the Deseret Morning News reported that MATRIX sold personal information to American Express for marketing purposes. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that some 33 states released government and commercial records on residents.

Read more on daily wireless…

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