Activist Group Sues US Border Agency Over New, Vast Intelligence System

Cyrus Farivar | Ars Technica | July 21, 2014

CBP never responded to request for info on “Analytical Framework for Intelligence.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an attempt to compel the government agency to hand over documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the US border.  EPIC’s lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, seeks a trove of documents concerning the “Analytical Framework for Intelligence” (AFI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. EPIC’s April 2014 FOIA request went unanswered after the 20 days that the law requires, and the group waited an additional 49 days before filing suit.

The AFI, which was formally announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consists of “a single platform for research, analysis, and visualization of large amounts of data from disparate sources and maintaining the final analysis or products in a single, searchable location for later use as well as appropriate dissemination.”  The new system appears to be a one-stop shop for classified and nonclassified materials and can include a target's name, address, race, physical characteristics, gender, social security number, family relationships, occupation, and more. The AFI went into effect in August 2012.

The June 2012 announcement in the Federal Register states, “The purpose of this system is to enhance DHS's ability to: Identify, apprehend, and/or prosecute individuals who pose a potential law enforcement or security risk; aid in the enforcement of the customs and immigration laws, and other laws enforced by DHS at the border; and enhance United States security.”  In an e-mail, CBP spokeswoman Erlinda Byrd told Ars, “CBP cannot comment on pending/ongoing cases.”...