History Commons Groups

October 15, 2009

New PROMIS Timeline Established

Filed under: Civil Liberties — kevinfenton @ 12:39 pm
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As those familiar with the Loss of US Civil Liberties will know, one of the focuses over the last few months has been the very complicated PROMIS dispute between the Justice Department and the private company Inslaw.

Originally, the PROMIS material was organised in a separate category that was part of the Civil Liberties Timeline. However, it is now being moved to its own timeline, which can be accessed from the Civil Liberties homepage.

Initially, the material was lumped in with the loss of civil liberties because there were only a few entries and the alleged use of PROMIS legacy code is linked to later NSA surveillance. However, as more and more entries were added to the timeline they focused on the origin of the dispute in the early 1980s, and we figure that a person interested in the loss of civil liberites (primarily after 9/11) is really not that interested in DoJ memos about its computer system from twenty years before. So I came to the opinion that the PROMIS material was getting in the way of the material that was more directly focused on civil liberties.

In addition, as those familiar with the ins and outs of the PROMIS dispute will know, there are multiple aspects of the dispute. The fact that PROMIS is now in its own independent timeline means that it can easily be split into categories. So, if you want to read the whole timeline click here. Alternatively, the individual categories cover the origin of the dispute, the various legal proceedings that followed Inslaw’s declaration of bankruptcy, congressional oversight, the (alleged) use of PROMIS outside the Justice Department (i.e. by other US agencies and other countries), and other events.

As you can see, there is still a tremendous amount of material to be added to the timeline, but I figure if a little is done every month, then progress will be slow but steady. The entries currently in the system (which will hopefully soon be published) cover the origin of the dispute up to the signing of Modification 12, plus a couple of side issues.

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