You call to complain on a barking dog. Maybe you happen on crime on the way home from work. Maybe you're an innocent person stopped by police. Should your name go into a national database anytime you have contact with a law enforcement agency?
It could happen.
The FBI and several other law enforcement organizations have been meeting with police agencies in Minnesota to introduce them to N-Dex. N-Dex is a product of post 9/11 data-sharing. The FBI basically wants to set up basically a national database of all incident reports and other police files -- including names of suspects, victims, complainants and witnesses -- from every law enforcement agency.
There is currently a similar database called NCIC which has criminal history information, stolen properties, and other data.
But before N-Dex gets going full steam here in Minnesota we should be asking authorities: what do we -- as the ultimate authority in our state -- what information do WE want shared?
N-Dex proponents are going to each law enforcement agency and ask them to share their data. So one agency can share everything as to what they consider incident reports, another may only give the FBI case closed files. Should there be state standards? Are there privacy and civil liberties interests?
The answers to these questions are too important to make up as as we go along. But that's what's happening as these N-Dex officials travel around Minnesota.
The above post was originally placed on Open Secrets on October 1, 2010. Since then there have been developments with our state's involvement with N-Dex.
There has been major discussions about implementing N-Dex in Minnesota since last year. The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Information Task Force has taken a lead with work groups. Next month the task force will start discussions as to what to recommend to the Minnesota Legislature on issues, for example, What kind of data should be shared with the FBI?, Should it go through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension?, or should law enforcement agencies throughout the state be able to share what they want to share with the FBI? What protections should there be for the people of Minnesota?
Think of N-Dex has a "large national data warehouse." It is important the people of Minnesota be involved on this issue because it can and will have an impact on rights, liberties, and privacy.
N-Dex has positives, but there must be thorough open and public discussion as to how Minnesota should participate. You might wonder why this matters to you, a law biding citizen.