ChoicePoint For Our Safety? - InformationWeek

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4/7/2006
11:15 AM
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ChoicePoint For Our Safety?

Why on earth would the federal government choose to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with a company that just a year ago suffered a data breach affecting almost 150,000 Americans? I don't know, but that's exactly what it has done.

Why on earth would the federal government choose to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with a company that just a year ago suffered a data breach affecting almost 150,000 Americans? I don't know, but that's exactly what it has done.Yes, the FBI recently signed a five-year, $12 million contract with ChoicePoint, the much-maligned data aggregator whose shoddy practices partially led to one of the most publicized data breaches in history and congressional calls to enact identity protection legislation.

It doesn't make much sense, especially for the FBI, which one would think would be investigating massive data breaches, not buying products and services from companies that have weathered them. Then again, maybe it's just trying to help ChoicePoint pay the $15 million in fines it has to pay the government.

Tack ChoicePoint's history onto recent GAO findings that information resellers that do business with the government often fail to protect privacy, and you'll further see my point. At a time when foreign IT deals are coming under more scrutiny from the government, here's a domestic deal that actually merits it.

Luckily at least one senator, Pat Leahy, D-Vt., is already questioning the deal, putting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the defensive in a Senate hearing. Gonzales said the deal doesn't cover data services, but a contract with the government still seems like a reward for bad behavior.

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