NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Suggestions to Turn U.S. Technology Against Terrorists

May 23, 2002

To identify potential terrorists and apprehend them before they can strike, the U.S. must enable federal computers to talk with each other -- and then with those in the private sector, technical analysts say.

  • Smart computers must be able to sift through millions of data points to help flag terror cells -- reducing the burden on human analysts.
  • Civilian firms do something similar each day when they screen for credit card fraud and search for deadbeats.
  • Fragmented computer systems at agencies such as the CIA, FBI and the INS must start sharing information with each other -- along with the civilian databases that contain the electronic footprints of terrorists.
  • Technology experts say a process to merge the systems using current technology could be rolled out within six months.

Advocates of this approach say that techies in the private sector -- who wouldn't have been caught dead working for the federal government prior to Sept. 11 -- are raring to go. And many technology vendors -- such as Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and IBM already have indicated their willingness to donate services and equipment to the cause.

Source: James Shinn (Princeton), "Enlist Techies in the War on Terrorism," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2002.


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