Spy agencies craft terrorist watch list data exchange standard

The intelligence community is building a data exchange standard to help its various agencies share information about terrorists.

The Terrorist Watchlist Person Data Exchange Standard was mandated by a memorandum of understanding among the Justice and Homeland Security departments and the CIA.

The Intelligence Community Metadata Working Group is developing the standard. According to information posted on its Web site, the new standard will be based on three primary sources:
  • The National Security Agency entity of interest model

  • The Justice Department Extensible Markup Language data dictionary prerelease 3.0.0

  • The FBI's National Crime Information Center codes.

The MOU calls for the intelligence community to use the standard to develop and maintain information about individuals 'known or appropriately suspected to be or have been involved in activities constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism.'

The standard appears to constitute a step forward in coordinating information sharing about terrorists on the watch list, a process that is by no means complete.

Representatives of the intelligence community did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails inquiring about the standard, which is referred to as TWPDES. Though the working group convened a panel to create the standard in June 2003, the TWPDES was still in 'coordination draft' as of May, according to the group's Web site.

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