Firm to provide FBI with online public record info

Data services firm ChoicePoint Inc. has forged an agreement to provide the FBI with information from online public records that will help the agency compile suspect profiles.

The agreement, announced this month, follows news that the Drug Enforcement Administration had selected ChoicePoint as its sole provider of public records for the agency division that oversees assets forfeited in drug trafficking cases.

Law enforcement agencies use public-record information for everything from tracking down assets that might be seized in an investigation to locating wanted persons.

ChoicePoint already has established a solid beachhead within the Justice Department — parent agency to the FBI and the DEA. In May, the company announced that it had signed a pact with DOJ that might bring in $5 million annually for three years. That agreement is open to other federal agencies with law enforcement or investigative duties — from the Secret Service to inspectors general offices.

The online access that ChoicePoint will provide through its agreements helps investigators pull together detailed profiles of individuals wanted by the law.

The data ChoicePoint will provide to agencies through the company's various agreements already exist in public files in courthouses and in state motor vehicles offices across the nation, and the data are open to the public and federal investigators. But getting to massive quantities of the data — to do a thorough investigation — is not always easy.

"For most people, it's public information, but not necessarily consolidated," a Justice official said.

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