ACLU Questions Scope of "Intelligence Fusion Center" in Massachusetts

May 11, 2005 12:00 am

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BOSTON — Responding to Governor Mitt Romney’s unveiling of the state’s first “intelligence fusion center,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today issued a formal request to Secretary of Public Safety Edward A. Flynn for documents describing the purpose, structure, and funding of the center.

“The establishment of a single-source intelligence center raises important issues concerning the scope of its operations and need for safeguards to ensure that its operation does not violate civil liberties or intrude on personal privacy,” said John Reinstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Governor Romney confirmed this morning at a press conference that the fusion center is intended to be the hub of a widespread intelligence network in Massachusetts, collecting information from public and private sector entities, such as private security firms, local law enforcement, transportation police, the National Guard, and “individuals who see things.”

Previously, at a national meeting of homeland security officials last December, Governor Romney stated that “meter readers, EMS drivers, law enforcement, private sector personnel need to be on the lookout for information,” and urged other states to enlist local agencies and businesses to collect “details and observations.” The ACLU said that such a network would be highly intrusive and subject to abuse.

“We need a lot more information about what precisely the fusion center will do, what information officials will be collecting, who will have access to the information, and what safeguards will be put in place to prevent abuse,” said Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Effective law enforcement is possible without moving toward a neighbor-spying-on-neighbor program that existed in authoritarian regimes like the former Soviet Union or East Germany.”

A copy of the ACLU’s public record request is available at: CENTER Public Records Report.pdf

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