Homeland Security names committee to advise department on privacy

| Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Department of Homeland Security has created a committee designed to give to the agency “expert advice” on maintaining privacy, data integrity and data interoperability in the department’s programs.

Privacy – especially dealing with the Homeland Security Department – has been a big issue for the trucking industry since the Transportation Security Administration issued rules requiring truckers with hazmat endorsements to undergo fingerprint-based background checks. The TSA is part of Homeland Security.

Those truckers are required to submit not only fingerprints, but also a large amount of personal information, including their Social Security numbers, all of which could be used by someone attempting to steal their identities.

In many states, the collection of that information – and the fingerprints – is being conducted by private contractors instead of federal or state officials.

Twenty people have been appointed to the Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee at the recommendation of Nuala O’Connor Kelly, the chief privacy officer for Homeland Security.

“This committee will provide the department with important recommendations on how to further the department’s mission while protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information of citizens and visitors of the United States,” Kelly said in a statement.

The members of the committee include a number of university faculty, government officials and officers of private corporations, as well as other organizations that deal with privacy issues. Among the members are:

  • Joseph Alhadeff, vice president and chief privacy officer at Oracle Corp., Washington, DC;
  • J. Howard Beales, associate professor at George Washington University, Arlington, VA;
  • James W. Harper, editor and executive director of Privacilla.org and director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, Washington, DC;
  • Joanne McNabb, chief of the Office of Privacy Protection at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Sacramento, CA;
  • Michael Turner, president and senior scholar at the Information Policy Institute, New York City; and
  • Samuel Wright, senior vice president of government relations at Cendant Corp., Washington, DC.

The committee is scheduled to meet April 6 in Washington, DC.

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