Justice task force looks into privacy

Privacy Technology Focus Group: Executive Summary and Final Report

A task force has issued a series of recommendations regarding privacy in justice information systems.

The Privacy Technology Focus Group was chartered to examine the exchange of personally identifiable information, focusing on justice and public safety data. Last November, the Justice Department brought together a group of public- and private-sector specialists to look into privacy technology. The group’s working teams covered areas such as access and authentication, data aggregation and dissemination, and identity theft.

A report issued earlier this month that stemmed from the focus group’s activities offers suggestions. Some relate to the Global Justice Extensible Markup Language Data Model (JXDM). For example, the report recommends reviewing and creating privacy metadata in Global JXDM. That metadata would describe sensitivity, use limitations and other characteristics of data.

In addition, the report suggests funding and training to encourage state and local agencies to move toward Global JXDM, the National Information Exchange Model and a baseline definition of identity data elements. Global JXDM is an XML standard designed for criminal justice information exchange. The National Information Exchange Model extends Global JXDM to other information domains.

Other recommendations include:

  • Appointing a team of policy and technology specialists from the public and private sectors to assess and revise “Fair Information Principles as they relate to specific justice circumstances and technologies,” the report states. Those principles come from government information-handling guidelines that have accumulated in the past two decades.
  • Developing a strategic plan to use anonymization in justice, public safety and homeland security initiatives to protect privacy while improving information sharing. “Anonymizing data permits multiple parties to correlate data from multiple sources without revealing personally identifiable information until or unless appropriate,” according to the report.
  • Establishing a grant condition that requires applicants to address identity management within programs and systems development backed by national funding.
The focus group’s report was prepared under the auspices of the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance in conjunction with DOJ’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative. The group’s steering committee included representatives from DOJ, IJIS Institute, Global XML Structure Task Force and the National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund.

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