Morning Security Brief: Private Data, Truancy Chips, Countering Piracy, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center that lengthens the time it can store information on private citizens from 180 days to five years. “The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and 'data mining them' using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat,” the New York Times reports. The new rules come after the U.S. realized it could have identified the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” if it had compiled information it already had on hand.

►In Brazil, the school uniforms of students aged four to 14 are being embedded with locator chips that let a computer know when the children enter the school building. The computer can send a text message to parents’ cell phones alerting them of their child’s arrival -- or late arrival. A message saying, "Your child has still not arrived at school" is sent when a child still hasn’t showed up 20 minutes into the school day. Twenty-thousand students in 25 public schools started using the chips this week. “The city government invested $670,000 to design, test, and make the microchipped T-shirts,” the Associated Press reports.

►Governments and industry leaders are discussing a number of issues surrounding private security on ships. Because of import restrictions on weapons, private security firms are storing their weapons on “floating armories” at sea. “Floating armories have become a viable business in the wake of increased security practices by the maritime industry, which has struggled for years to combat attacks by Somali pirates. But those in the industry say the standards vary widely,” the Associated Press reports. Also, many firearms being used to fight piracy are illegal in the United Kingdom. U.K. law allows security companies to apply for permission to purchase, possess, and export firearms, “however, they are not allowed to train with these firearms,” Maritime Connector reports. “It seems strange to give permission to work with firearms on a U.K.-flagged ship, but not be able to test fire and train before departing....At the moment, companies like us who operate abroad have an advantage, but there are some that do no training at all and that is a real worry,” said Maritime Asset Security and Training director Phillip Cable. 

►In other news, a report from Business Insider raises concerns about FBI counterterror tactics where “the FBI and Homeland Security slip these informants into the lives of ordinary citizens, and provide the motivation, the money, and the means to do harm.” ♦ Witnesses at a congressional hearing on Thursday attributed low moral at DHS to heavy turnover and weak training. ♦ And global energy leaders called for the nuclear industry to take on a greater role in securing nuclear material from the threats of terrorism and natural disasters, Yonhap News reports.



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