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Data Sharing, Government Style 96

rowama writes "The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department have been collaborating to develop an XML-based model for data sharing. After less than a year since the initial release, in October 2005, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) 1.0 Beta is out. It's big, really big. There are no less than 9 namespaces and plans for future expansion. Contact your local government contractor, with resume in hand, and you may be one of the lucky developers to implement NIEM-capable software."
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Data Sharing, Government Style

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  • TSDB (Score:2, Informative)

    by 9x320 (987156) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:38PM (#15733967)
    Neato. Maybe now they'll make less errors in that Terrorist Screening Database they have. You know, the one that has the names of over 250,000 people tagged as terrorists used in everything from no-fly lists to border crossings ever since the administration wanted all such watchlists to be consolidated into a single big one. That one the NSA probably uses. That one that, according to Department of Justice Inspector General reports [], may be riddled with errors.

    Read the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General reports. They redact sensitive information in some cases, but based on context you can identify information in some places they've failed to redact in others. Keep on reading and you'll remember things to fit together a bigger picture.
  • Re:TSDB (Score:3, Informative)

    by 9x320 (987156) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:53PM (#15734082)
    3,673 records had been removed from the Terrorist Screening Database since its creation in June 2004 until this DOJ Inspector General report came out in May 2005. The page of the Inspector General report clarifies that when a possible misidentification of a suspect with Terrorist Screening Database records is found by the Terrorist Screening Center, the Quality Assurance team reviews the information with the agency (either the National Counterterrorism Center or a certain FBI unit) that nominated the record to be included in the database. Removal of the name from the Terrorism Screening Database is an option.

    Previously, two databases were maintained, a Terrorist Threat Integration Center database that was classified, which would have information from files removed before being moved to an unclassified Terrorist Screening Database for use by law enforcement.

    Local law enforcement centers, and certain international airports, would get a copy of the database, and if they saw a face and name that matched up with a file in their copy, they would call a phone number. The Terrorist Screening Center would advise them on what to do based on four handling codes, which were redacted by the FBI as sensitive information in Department of Justice Inspector General reports, but I have them right here []. There was a computer malfunction that resulted in Handling Code 4's being tagged as "armed and dangerous" in the database due to an error in the programming language of a program that was supposed to automatically merge together a certain database into the larger one. I wonder if this resulted in any false arrests. The handling codes have been updated since they were first released.

    Handling Code 1: WARNING - APPROACH WITH CAUTION. Arrest this individual. This individual is
    associated with terrorism. Once this individual is arrested, immediately contact the Terrorist Screening
    Center at (866) 872-9001 for additional information and direction. If you are a border patrol officer
    immediately call the NTC [National Targeting Center]

    Handling Code 2: WARNING - APPROACH WITH CAUTION. Please detain this individual for a
    reasonable amount of time for questioning. This individual is of investigative interest to law enforcement
    regarding association with terrorism. Immediately contact the Terrorist Screening Center at (866) 872-9001 for additional direction. (As appropriate, the TSC will facilitate an immediate response from an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] or other appropriate law enforcement entity.) If you are a border patrol officer immediately call the NTC.

    Handling Code 3: DO NOT ALERT THIS INDIVIDUAL TO THIS NOTICE. The person queried through
    this search may be an individual identified by intelligence information as having possible ties with terrorism. Contact the Terrorism Screening Center at (866) 872-9001 for additional identifying information available to assist you in making this determination. DO NOT ARREST THIS INDIVIDUAL UNLESS THERE IS EVIDENCE OF A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL STATUTES. Conduct a logical
    investigation using techniques authorized in you jurisdiction and ask probing questions to determine if this individual is identical to the person of law enforcement interest. WARNING - APPROACH WITH CAUTION. If you are a border patrol officer immediately call the NTC.
    Handling Code

    4: DO NOT ALERT THIS INDIVIDUAL TO THIS NOTICE. The person queried through
    this search may be an individual identified by intelligence information as having possible ties with terrorism. DO NOT ARREST THIS INDIVIDUAL UNLESS THERE IS EVIDENCE OF A VIOLATION OF
    FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL STATUTES. Attempt to obtain sufficient identification information to
    positively identify this individual in a manner consistent with the techniques authorized in you jurisdiction. You may be contacte
  • Re:War of the Worlds (Score:3, Informative)

    by EQ (28372) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:42PM (#15734602) Homepage Journal
    Actually that statment is pretty clear to someone with domain knowledge. Like any other knowlege domain, its probably very abstruse to the outside. Remember, Feynman was not famous for only being a physicist, but for being a physicist that could make himself understood to those outside of his domain of expertise (c.f. Feynman's lectures).

    Its actually a very concise and clear explanation of that part of the data plan. The problem for you is that you do not have the context, nor subject matter expertise, so it appears to make no sense to you. I, on the other hand, have handled and created classified compartmented documents "back in the day", so its meaning is perfectly clear to me. Its also quite obvious this is from a section about how to carry across message-handling markings ("Classification" and "Dissementation" restrictions & caveats) from one agency to another, or even intra-agency stuff. This indicates to me that you probably pulled it from the Intelligence part of the namespace.

    Bascially, the part you quoted says, in more coloquial English:

    To control who gets to see this portion of data, the document is marked over-all AND portions are marked individually. To properly mark a portion of a document, (usually a paragraph), ther may be some paragraphs in a document that are "secret", some may be "unclassified", some may be US-only, some may be releasable to NATO, or various and sundry combinations of these types of things. To designate these "portion classifications, caveats and dissementation controls" and properly "mark" this portion fo the document, there is either (a) a single abreviated term, or else (b) a list of abbrevaited terms delimited by spaces. These terms can be found in a document called the "CAPCO Reigster". The only exception to this rule is the "REL" term, which means "Releasable To". Therefore, the values normally found after the REL term in a portion of a document should be put into the "releasableTo" attribute of this portion of a document, instead of the normal dissemenation control data block part of the document.

    Thats a lot of context that isnt needed by someone reading a spec, governmentor otherwise. The spec assumes a given level of subject matter and domain expertise. To dumb it down would be wrong - that is the best way to lard up and bloat a spec, or else allow a spec so loose as to be useless in constraining the data properly. And, as you mention, "XML is upposed to make it easier to manipulate data by providing unambiguous definitions". The quoted text in your post is an example of a *very* _un_ambiguous definition of a data field. And contrary to your belief, its not just goverment that created such hard-to-scan (for outsiders) documents/specs, I've seen banks, health companies, telecom companies, aerospace [and other places that cannot afford a "loose" data type] write very similar specifications that contain similar definitions.

    You'll see much of the same once you get out into the world.


Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten