Private Sector Companies Adapt to a Post-9/11 World
| 01.20.2005 | 12:22:36 | Views: 2609 | ID:
January 20 '05: Information collection companies "that sold credit data to the insurance industry," have been changing with times to help the private sector adapt to a post-9/11 world. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that one particular company, Georgia-based ChoicePoint Inc. has adapted by providing information to over 50,000 clients while the company stock value has "...ballooned to $4.1 billion."
The transformation of ChoicePoint into a "private intelligence service" for national security and law enforcement agencies has found the company ostensibly posturing itself as an intelligence agency. ChoicePoint's vice president James Zimbardi told the Post "We do act as an intelligence agency, gathering data, applying analytics."
The example of ChoicePoint underscores the movement by many other private companies to fill the gap in information collection the government can not provide because of privacy and information laws, the Post reported.
In 2001, ChoicePoint signed a contract with the Department of Justice while its rival, LexisNexis Group have been working with government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency. The United States Attorney General John Ashcroft told the Post that working with these private sector companies is essential to national security.
Critics and civil libertarians are worried, however, that such cooperation between the government and the private sector could erode individuals' rights. "These critics," the Post wrote, "said it will soon be hard for individuals looking for work or access to sensitive facilities to ever shake off a criminal past or small transgression, such as a bounced check or minor arrest."
But many in the industry say they are only trying to make the country safer. The chief executive of ChoicePoint Derek V. Smith said the main concern of ChoicePoint is to secure the safety of the country because "The stakes have escalated since 2001."
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