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    DHS Proposes Rulemaking on Information Sharing Environment System of Records

    The Department of Homeland Security has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for a new system of records: the Department of Homeland Security/ALL-031 Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative System of Records. You can submit comments, identified by docket number DHS-2010-0076, by one of the following methods:

    1. Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    2. Fax: 703-483-2999.
    3. Mail: Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528.

    From the Federal Register notice:

    This system of records will allow DHS components that produce, receive, and store suspicious activity reports (SARs) pursuant to their existing authorities, responsibilities, platforms, and programs to compile and share report data that also meet the ISE-SAR Functional Standard with authorized participants in the Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI) including, federal departments and agencies, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, and the private sector. The NSI is one of a number of government-wide efforts designed to implement guidelines first issued by the President on December 16, 2005, for establishing the ISE pursuant to section 1016 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), as amended. The NSI establishes a nationwide capability to gather, document, process, analyze and share information about suspicious activity, incidents, or behavior reasonably indicative of terrorist activities (hereafter collectively referred to as suspicious activity or activities) to enable rapid identification and mitigation of potential terrorist threats. [...]

    Several operational components within DHS regularly observe or otherwise encounter suspicious activities while executing their authorized missions and performing operational duties. Components document those observations or encounters in SARs. Across the Department the operational setting or context for activities reported in SARs are as varied as the Department’s mission responsibilities. Engagement with the NSI will alter neither those underlying mission functions nor upset the current methodologies employed by DHS components collecting information on suspicious activities and issuing SARs. Rather, the NSI will facilitate the more effective sharing and discovery–both internally and between DHS and external NSI participants–by incorporating a standardized technological and functional approach for recording and storing ISE-SARs throughout DHS. Once training in the NSI program and the application of these technical and functional standards, DHS personnel will review component SARs and submit the data only from those that meet the ISE-SAR Functional Standard into the NSI Shared Space. [...]

    DHS is claiming exemptions from certain requirements of the Privacy Act for DHS/ALL-031 ISE SAR Program System of Records. Some information
    in the DHS/ALL-031 ISE SAR Program System of Records relates to official DHS national security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence activities, and protective services to the President of the U.S. or other individuals pursuant to Section 3056 and 3056A of Title 18. These exemptions are needed to protect information relating to DHS activities from disclosure to subjects or others related to these activities. Specifically, the exemptions are required to preclude subjects of these activities from frustrating these processes; to avoid disclosure of activity techniques; to protect the identities and physical safety of confidential informants and law enforcement personnel; to ensure DHS’ ability to obtain information from third parties and other sources; to protect the privacy of third parties; to safeguard classified information; and to safeguard records in connection with providing protective services to the President of the U.S. or other individuals pursuant to Section 3056 and 3056A of Title 18. Disclosure of information to the subject of the inquiry could also permit the subject to avoid detection or apprehension.

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