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U.S. Backs Fla. Counterterrorism Database

System Developed By Boca Raton Company

POSTED: 6:13 a.m. EDT August 6, 2003
UPDATED: 12:05 p.m. EDT August 6, 2003

Authorities in Florida are creating a counterterrorism database that will give law enforcement agencies around the country a new tool to analyze billions of records about both criminals and ordinary Americans, according to a Washington Post report Wednesday.

The system, which is called Matrix or Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, reportedly allows investigators to find patterns and links among people and events faster than ever before. It combines, police records with commercially available collections of personal information about most American adults, according to the Post.

The Florida system was developed by Seisint Inc., in Boca Raton, Fla.

Some civil liberties groups fear the Matrix system will dramatically lower the threshold for government snooping because other systems don't allow searches of criminal and commercial records with such ease or speed, the Post reported.

The state-level program is aided by federal funding and could expand across the nation.

The Justice Department has provided $4 million to expand the Matrix program nationally and will provide the computer network for information sharing among the states, according to documents and interviews. The Department of Homeland Security has pledged $8 million, state officials said.

At least 135 police agencies in the state have signed up for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database service, which began operation more than a year ago. At least a dozen states -- including Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan -- said they want to add their records.

Florida officials say the system will be used only by authorized investigators under tight supervision.

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