CLEVELAND – Today, the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro demanding that he withdraw the state from all data-mining programs. On Friday, April 15, federal funding was ended for the controversial and invasive Multistate

Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX). At the time of MATRIX’s demise the Attorney General’s office announced it would proceed to use a program that was the basis for the MATRIX program called the Factual Analysis Criminal Threat Solution (FACTS). In her letter to Petro, ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link writes, “As the problems with these programs have become clearer, public support for data-mining projects has steadily eroded. We have no reason to believe any of the public’s concerns will be ameliorated as Ohio reverts back to the old FACTS program.” The MATRIX and FACTS programs draw on a vast database of personal information that the government can use for law enforcement purposes. The ACLU points out that there is no way for citizens to verify that all of the data stored in the FACTS database is accurate.

The ACLU’s worries are compounded by recent tend of security breaches at some of the countries biggest data firms. LexisNexis, the parent company of Seisint, the data management firm that handles MATRIX and FACTS, recently announced a massive security breach. The breach affected the database used for MATRIX and FACTS left the privacy of hundreds of thousands of citizens compromised, including many Ohioans. That breach comes amidst announcements of major breaches at Lexis competitors Choicepoint and DSW Shoe Warehouse who announced last month that a massive number of their data files had been compromised due to lax security.

Link notes, “The recent data breaches at LexisNexis, Choicepoint, and DSW go to show that the best way for the government to protect our private information is to refrain from encouraging corporations that gather it. By participating in FACTS, the State of Ohio is doing exactly the opposite.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU of Ohio is a state affiliate of the national ACLU. Funded entirely through charitable gifts and membership dues, the ACLU defends individual rights through litigation, advocacy, and educational initiatives.