In a public release, the Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy Office highlights two parts of the homeland security grant guidance from FEMA, “Homeland Security Grant Program: Guidance and Application Kit” (pdf). The Privacy Office considers these two portions “significant accomplishments in privacy protection.” The Office says:
Second, page 55 of the document addresses best practices for government use of CCTV. The guidance states, “DHS recommends that grantees seeking funds to purchase and install closed circuit television (CCTV) systems, or funds to provide support for operational CCTV systems, review and utilize the guidance in Best Practices for Government Use of CCTV: Implementing the Fair Information Practice Principles available on the DHS Privacy Office website at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_rpt_cctv_2007.pdf. As you may recall, this report identifies a series of best practices and provides a PIA template for CCTV activities, as well as a PIA for state and local agencies. The report provides a CLIA template as well.
The Privacy Office continues to work diligently towards raising privacy awareness throughout the Department, and the recognition of the importance of privacy in the FEMA guidance is a result of that hard work.
The Privacy Office has a tough job and I believe they have tried to strengthen privacy protections in Homeland Security programs. However, there is always more to be done and more questions to be answered. For instance, there are still numerous open questions surrounding the fusion centers.
For more on the Privacy Office’s activities, you can review their latest annual report.