Monday, May 05, 2003

Total Information Awareness goes international

ChoicePoint, the firm responsible for purging black voters from Florida's voting records, is being paid millions of dollars by the Bush administration to collect detailed data on the citizens of foreign countries. The data includes names, addresses, occupations, dates of birth, passport numbers, physical descriptions, tax records and blood groups - anything they can get - and is focused on people in Latin America. Obviously Total Information Awareness has gone international.

Unfortunately, ChoicePoint seems to be using dubious methods to collect its data, and may have violated local data protection and privacy laws. Investigations have begun in Nicaragua and Mexico, and there's a prospect that the company will be sued or prosecuted for misusing Mexico's electoral data. I'd very much like to see that happen.

Of course, this also raises the question of whether a similar data-collection operation is being run on New Zealanders. Maybe the Privacy Commissioner should look into this?