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Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007

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Citation

Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-53, 121 Stat. 266, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000ee-3.

Overview

The Act amended federal law to require all federal agencies using or developing data mining programs to report annually to Congress on pattern-based analyses of electronic databases used to identify predictive patterns or anomalies that indicate terrorist or criminal activity. The act excludes analyses that are subject-based, that use personal identifiers or inputs associated with individuals, and those that are solely to detect fraud, waste, and abuse in government agencies or programs, or for government computer security.

Definition of "data mining"

The Act defines "data mining” as:

a program involving pattern-based queries, searches, or other analyses of 1 or more electronic databases, where —
(A) a department or agency of the Federal Government, or a non-Federal entity acting on behalf of the Federal Government, is conducting the queries, searches, or other analyses to discover or locate a predictive pattern or anomaly indicative of terrorist or criminal activity on the part of any individual or individuals;
(B) the queries, searches, or other analyses are not subject-based and do not use personal identifiers of a specific individual, or inputs associated with a specific individual or group of individuals, to retrieve information from the database or databases; and
(C) the purpose of the queries, searches, or other analyses is not solely —
(i) the detection of fraud, waste, or abuse in a Government agency or program; or
(ii) the security of a Government computer system.[1]

The Act excludes queries, searches or analyses that are conducted solely in electronic databases of publicly-available information: telephone directories, news reporting services, databases of legal and administrative rulings, and other databases and services providing public information without a fee.[2]

It is important to note two key aspects of the Act’s definition of “data mining.” First, the definition is limited to pattern-based electronic searches, queries or analyses; activities that use only personally identifying information, or other terms specific to individuals (e.g., a license plate number or vessel registration number), as search terms are excluded from the definition. Second, the definition is limited to searches, queries or analyses that are conducted for the purpose of identifying predictive patterns or anomalies that are indicative of terrorist or criminal activity by an individual or individuals. Research in electronic databases that produces only a summary of historical trends is not “data mining” under the Act.

Congressional reporting requirement

The Act requires "the head of each department or agency of the Federal Government that is engaged in an activity to use or develop data mining shall submit a report to Congress on all such activities of the department or agency."[3] The Report must contain the following information about each program or activity that meets the Act's definition of "data mining":

  1. A thorough description of the data mining activity, its goals, and, where appropriate, the target dates for the deployment of the data mining activity.
  2. A thorough description of the data mining technology that is being used or will be used, including the basis for determining whether a particular pattern or anomaly is indicative of terrorist or criminal activity.
  3. A thorough description of the data sources that are being or will be used.
  4. An assessment of the efficacy or likely efficacy of the data mining activity in providing accurate information consistent with and valuable to the stated goals and plans for the use or development of the data mining activity.
  5. An assessment of the impact or likely impact of the implementation of the data mining activity on the privacy and civil liberties of individuals, including a thorough description of the actions that are being taken or will be taken with regard to the property, privacy, or other rights or privileges of any individual or individuals as a result of the implementation of the data mining activity.
  6. A list and analysis of the laws and regulations that govern the information being or to be collected, reviewed, gathered, analyzed, or used in conjunction with the data mining activity, to the extent applicable in the context of the data mining activity.
  7. A thorough discussion of the policies, procedures, and guidelines that are in place or that are to be developed and applied in the use of such data mining activity in order to protect the privacy and due process rights of individuals, such as redress procedures, and ensure that only accurate and complete information is collected, reviewed, gathered, analyzed, or used, and guard against any harmful consequences of potential inaccuracies.[4]

References

  1. Pub. L. No. 110-53, 121 Stat. 266, §804(b)(1).
  2. Id. §804(b)(2).
  3. Id. §804(c)(1).
  4. Id. §804(c)(2).

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