We’re “all sinners” so government needs our data?


I observed and testified today at the meeting of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Policy Group on whether or not Minnesota should send millions of law enforcement records on Minnesotans to the FBI.  Some of the records are incident reports that police do when they are called by 911, or when a person calls for service.  The records can range from disorderly conduct to arson, every possible offense.  A great many of these records are initiated by complaints, people are named as possible suspects.  It is also true many people after an investigation are cleared.  But the Policy Group with reservations by three people passed it unanimously and will be encouraging the Legislature to do the same.

Therefore, millions of records on us could go the FBI-N-Dex, to their “large national data warehouse” to be used by the Federal Government and other criminal justice agencies for “administration of justice” purposes which in my view is broad.  The information can be used about you without you even knowing about.   No Fair Information law or rules for you.   Are our Minnesota rights and protections being thrown out the window? The following are the Fair Information principles:

The Code of Fair Information Practices was the central contribution of the HEW (Health, Education, Welfare) Advisory Committee on Automated Data Systems. The Advisory Committee was established in 1972, and the report released in July. The citation for the report is as follows:
U.S. Dep’t. of Health, Education and Welfare, Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems, Records, computers, and the Rights of Citizens viii (1973).

The Code of Fair Information Practices is based on five principles:

  1. There must be no personal data record-keeping systems whose very existence is secret.
  2. There must be a way for a person to find out what information about the person is in a record and how it is used.
  3. There must be a way for a person to prevent information about the person that was obtained for one purpose from being used or made available for other purposes without the person’s consent.
  4. There must be a way for a person to correct or amend a record of identifiable information about the person.
  5. Any organization creating, maintaining, using, or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take precautions to prevent misuses of the data.

Now lets get back to the “all sinners”.  After the meeting I spoke to the leading proponent of this proposal on the Policy Group.  He and I debated on issues I felt were not being addressed.  I stated that we are giving to the FBI/N-Dex many files on innocent people that should not be given.  People, for example, who are cleared by police of a charge, but who are not arrested.  Other examples were stated.  He then responded in a somewhat humorous way, to get his point of view across to me, we’re “all sinners, born with sin”. Therefore it seems his logic may be that government should keep these kinds of records, on all of us, all the time, and share them, because we can all be “bad.”

The Policy Group will meet on February 1, 2012 with proposed statutory language to implement the recommendations.

Please also note Minnesota Public Radio report on this issue several weeks ago.