Report: Feds must build homeland security network

The federal government has not yet taken full advantage of private-sector technology expertise to fight the war on terrorism, according to a new study from the Markle Foundation, a nonprofit think tank.

In its report, "Creating a Trusted Information Network for Homeland Security (pdf)," the New York-based foundation's Task Force on National Security in the Information Age catalogs gaps in the nation's system for analyzing and sharing intelligence information.

As a solution, the task force details the elements of a proposed Systemwide Homeland Analysis and Resources Exchange Network. The group said the network would more effectively combat terrorism while protecting privacy and other civil liberties.

The network could be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and could be built in its first stage using existing technology. This technology would allow information to be protected and shared through published directories, which list what entity has relevant information, and rules of permission to determine which groups can access the information.

Current technology also would allow authentication of subscribers to the directories, and anonymity where appropriate to share the necessary information while protecting privacy.

"Using available technology, the government can set up a network that substantially improves our ability to prevent terrorism and protect civil liberties," said Zoe Baird, president of the Markle Foundation and task force co-chair.

The task force wants the Bush administration to create the network, issue guidelines for collecting and using domestic information, and clarify the roles of the Department of Homeland Security, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the FBI and other federal agencies involved in collecting and analyzing domestic terrorism information.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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