The state of Georgia has pulled out of the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored MATRIX information collection program, leaving data only on its felons and sexual offenders behind in the Orwellian database.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has cited both privacy concerns and costs as the two key reasons the state will no longer participate in the MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange) pilot project. The MATRIX database has been billed as a way to keep track of citizens' information such as their credit histories, marriage and divorce records, fingerprints and social security numbers. By linking this information from several states in one, big, intrusive database, law enforcement officials claim they would be more competent at tracking terrorists and other nasties.
"The State of Georgia will not transfer any additional information to the company responsible for the MATRIX project," said Governor Perdue. "I have held serious concerns about the privacy issues involved with this project all along, and have decided it is in the best interest of the people of Georgia that our state have no further participation in the MATRIX pilot project.
"The criminal, prison, and sexual predator information previously submitted will remain part of the database. This information is relevant to the crime fighting purpose of the pilot project, but personal information of law-abiding citizens is not. I feel today's decision reflects a proper balance between fighting crime and respecting the right to privacy."
The list of states willing to participate in the MATRIX project is dwindling. Kentucky, Oregon and South Carolina pulled out earlier this year. Georgia's exit leaves the Party with Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah as guinea pigs. But, hey, what's wrong with having a little fun at the proles' expense?
The handy life-tracking database idea should sound familiar. DARPA tried to get some backing for its Total Information Awareness (TIA) program before being shut down by Congress. It seems, however, that was bit a mini-bump in the road. Along with TIA and MATRIX, we have NIMD (Novel Intelligence from Massive Data); CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System); HID (Human Identification at a Distance), ARM (Activity Recognition Monitoring); F.U.K.D (Free the United Kingdom From Drugs) and B.O.M.B.D (British Opposition to Metabolically Bisturbile Drugs); and G.E.F.A.F.W.I.S.P (Global Ensortium For A First World Iniative On Scientific Practise). Phew, that's a mouthful.
The MATRIX has been toned down since it was first introduced, after some uppity types like Georgia Rep. Bob Barr questioned the privacy implications of such an information collective. But the program does live on and is managed by Florida-based Seisint, which has a $4 million budget as its disposal.
Lest you have any concerns that the company may let little bits of your personal information trickle out onto the Web, we urge you to rest easy - its MATRIX Web site runs on Windows 2000 and IIS 5.0. This is a security conscious outfit to be sure. ®
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