Friday, April 5, 2013

... While the ATF Moves on Big Data.

R--OPTION - Investigative System
Solicitation Number: DJA-13-AOSI-PR-0238-1
Agency: Department of Justice
Office: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
Location: Administrative Programs Division (APD)
available at
From Wired: "[ATF] is looking to buy a 'massive online data repository system' ... to process automated searches of individuals, and 'find connection points between two or more individuals' ... instead of requiring an analyst to manually search around for your personal information, the database should 'obtain exact matches from partial source data searches' such as social security numbers (or even just a fragment of one), vehicle serial codes, age range, 'phonetic name spelling,' or a general area where your address is located. Input that data, and out comes your identity, while the computer automatically establishes connections you have with others."

"... the ATF is widely perceived as a weak, stagnant and underfunded agency. Even if it has a database that can track you down and find out who your friends are, it won’t necessarily be able to apply that to tracing gun transactions due to Congressional restrictions. If the agency finds a gun linked to a crime, and then traces the gun to someone who bought it from someone else, all of that work figuring out the who’s-who will still likely have to be done manually."

It takes a few months for the Federal Government to get moving after something like Newtown.  They're making progress.  However, as the article notes, Federal Law bars the ATF from creating a centralized database tracing gun transactions.  It doesn't bar anyone else from doing it, just ATF.  Which is a policy with certain downsides.