ACLU of Wisconsin Applauds Attorney General's Decision to Drop Out of Controversial MATRIX Data-mining Program

Affiliate: ACLU of Wisconsin
March 11, 2004 12:00 am

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MILWAUKEE-The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin today commended Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager on her reported decision to end the state’s short-lived participation in the controversial Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange known as MATRIX.

The data-mining project, funded by the federal government and controlled by a private Florida company, gives participating agencies unprecedented access to vast amounts of public and commercially available data on Americans.

“The Attorney General apparently has now seen the unintended consequences of participating in this out-of-control project, which has more to do with secretly amassing information on innocent Americans than with cost-effective, technologically sound law enforcement,”” said Christopher Ahmuty, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.

“”The Attorney General’s commitment to effective law enforcement instead of potentially harmful gimmicky is commendable.””

Wisconsin is one of several of the original participating states to drop out of the program. New York announced today that it was also dropping out.

“It appears that the Attorney General has stopped this program in Wisconsin before any harm has been done,”” Ahmuty added. “”We need to look at our policies and laws to make sure that we won’t have any more close calls, because once Wisconsin joins any overly intrusive insecure computerized network, it is next to impossible to repair the damage done to innocent Americans.””

The ACLU of Wisconsin made calls seeking clarification about the Department’s reported withdrawal from the program and has sent a letter to Attorney General Lautenschlager pointing out the problematic history and inadequate safeguards of the MATRIX. The ACLU letter also compared the MATRIX system to the discredited Total Information Awareness program, which Congress refused to fund.

For more information on MATRIX, go to

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