EPIC Obtains Documents Revealing Federal Role in State Fusion Center SecrecySubmitted by amica jeffersoni on Mon, 04/20/2009 - 12:56
The news isn't good. The federal government is trying to limit the rights of citizens who want to know more about what fusion centers are really up to.
WASHINGTON, DC - The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has
obtained a Memorandum of Understanding between the FBI and the Virginia
State Police that details federally imposed limitations on the Virginia
open government law. The memorandum, a January 2008 agreement signed by
the FBI and the Department regarding Virginia’s fusion intelligence
center, references federal exemptions that would limit the ability of
Virginia citizens to obtain public records from a state agency.
The disclosure comes at a time when Virginia is considering HB1007
(“Fusion Intelligence Center; confidentiality and immunity from service of
process”) that would further curtail the state’s open government and
privacy laws for the Virginia Fusion Center. The bill before the Governor
would also eliminate several long-standing common law rights for citizens
harmed by information provided to the fusion center. Press groups have criticized the proposed law, and warned that, if enacted, Virginia
citizens can “say hello to Big Brother.” “Fusion centers” are
intelligence databases that collect extensive information on ordinary
citizens. They have raised substantial privacy concerns.
I also include this link to EPIC's site on fusion centers. This contains, among other things, links to a DHS "Privacy Impact Assessment" of fusion centers; details on upcoming Virginia legislation; a list of quesions which should be asked of every fusion center; EPIC's FOIA request to the Virginia Fusion Center; and the text of the "secret contract" between the Virginia State Police and the FBI. There's a lot of info here. Clearly, there's a lot of work to be done is every state.