Today The Identity Project and eight other civil liberties and human rights organizations filed comments with the US Department of Homeland Security objecting to both the creation and the exemption from the Privacy Act of the latest DHS system of social media and travel surveillance records, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Intelligence Records System (CIRS).
Our comments were co-signed and submitted jointly on behalf of:
- The Identity Project (IDP)
- Restore The Fourth, Inc.
- Woodhull Freedom Foundation
- Defending Rights & Dissent
- Government Information Watch
- National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)
- Cyber Privacy Project (CPP)
- Government Accountability Project
Members of the public (regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens or residents) can submit their own comments on these DHS proposals, including anonymous comments, until midnight tonight, Washington DC time, by using the official Web forms here and here at Regulations.gov.
In part, the proposed creation and exemption from the Privacy Act of CIRS is merely the latest episode in a DHS shell game in which some of the same DHS travel logs and surveillance records have been successively redefined as being part of the TECS records system, then the Automated Targeting System (the system used as the basis for algorithmic pre-crime scoring and blacklisting of international travelers), then the Analytical Framework for Analysis (the system used by Palantir’s data mining and profiling tools), and now CIRS.
DHS Privacy Act notices for these systems have often lagged years behind DHS operational practices, even though it’s a crime for a Federal agency to maintain a database of information about individuals without a specific sort of notice before it’s created.
What’s new about CIRS, aside from the new name, is that the categories of records in CIRS would be expanded to include “Articles, public-source data (including information from social media), and other published information on individuals and events of interest to CBP.” Additional sources of information for CIRS records would include “private sector entities and organizations, individuals, commercial data providers, and public sources such as social media, news media outlets, and the Internet.”