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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Expanded Use of Domestic Spy Satellite Data

The Department of Homeland Security will begin to share spy satellite data with domestic law enforcement agencies next year.  The theory is that satellite images will assist in border security. The most interesting news resport I’ve read on this topic came from Fox News. While all the news reports pointed out concerns about oversight and the effect on privacy, only this article mentioned that *getting* data isn’t the end of the story – to be meaningful, someone somewhere has to analyze it and that this kind of data would be likely be of low priority:

Analysts across the intelligence community are already swamped with incoming data from foreign surveillance, and they may have little time for lower-priority work.

In light of recent expansions on wiretapping, this is, well, unnerving.

Lack of collaboration among DHS watch centers

The Department of Homeland Security has 25 operations centers throughout the U.S., and according to a recent GAO audit, they’re not collaborating very well.

Here’s the full story:

GAO faults DHS for poor management of watch centers

According to the report, DHS doesn’t have a clear set of procedures in place for the operation of its Homeland Security Information Network, which in turn hampers the operations centers’ ability to share information related to terrorist threats and the like.

As we saw after 9/11, the lack of coordination between the FBI and CIA put the nation at risk. Obviously, there has to be better cooperation among these 25 centers in order to avoid a similar situation. The same goes for information-sharing prior to, during, and following a natural disaster or other catastrophe.

It’s alarming that “basics” like information-sharing policies and procedures are either non-existent or poorly defined at both the regional and national levels, especially given that more complex and technical processes are needed to keep the citizenry safe.