ACLU of Michigan Calls on State Joint Appropriations Subcommittee to Investigate Cost of MATRIX Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DETROIT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said today that it would request a discussion of the controversial data-mining program known as MATRIX at a March 18 meeting of the state legislature’s Joint Appropriations Subcommittees on State Police/Military and Veterans Affairs.
“”We have real civil liberties concerns about MATRIX,”” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “”It is unclear what data will be compiled, who else may have access to it, or what standards would trigger the creation of a dossier on an individual. Moreover, the public has no idea of what costs might be involved, an issue of special importance when every state and local governmental body is having its budgets slashed.””
MATRIX, which stands for Multistate Anti-TeRrorism Information eXchange, is a federally funded data-mining program that ties together government and commercial databases in order to allow state and local police to conduct detailed searches on particular individuals. The program’s creators have refused to describe the contents of their database, except to concede that it includes both government and commercial data.
In an effort to understand the breadth of Michigan’s participation in MATRIX the ACLU has sent multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to the Michigan State Police. In response to these requests, the State Police have denied any knowledge of the costs associated with the program. The ACLU is also concerned over the potential for civil liberties and privacy abuse through the MATRIX project. The evasiveness and lack of candor by the Michigan State Police in their FOIA response is illuminating on these concerns as well, Moss said.
States including New York, Wisconsin, Texas and Georgia have withdrawn from the MATRIX program, citing both privacy and financial concerns. In the case of Texas, MATRIX would have cost an anticipated $140,000 monthly usage charge. In Georgia, costs in excess of $300,000 were projected for coding and data transmission.
For more information about MATRIX, go to www.aclu.org/matrix
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