Texans for Accountable Government brings stronger privacy and civil liberties safeguards to the Collin County Fusion Center
AUSTIN — Most Texans probably couldn’t tell you what a fusion center is. But a fusion center could tell you a lot about any Texan, including who they are … and what they’ve done.
The extent of what information is made available to these Fusion Centers is what leaders of Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) and Operation Defuse (ODF) had in mind when they met with the director of the North Central Texas Fusion System recently.
A fusion center is a multi-jurisdictional law-enforcement apparatus which seeks to centralize and standardize the information gathering and intelligence sharing practices of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
“The NCTFS has had a couple of major controversies in the past concerning political profiling and privacy issues. We are very pleased to see the center taking proactive steps to ensure such abuses do not occur in the future.” said John Bush.
“While this is an excellent safeguard against first amendment abuses,” Bush told fusion center staff, “it is lacking something. Notice there is no protection afforded to non-criminal information. Non-criminal information can come in the form of a suspicious activity report collected on someone who is ‘espousing extremist views,’ as occurs with LAPD, or when someone is ‘distributing radical literature in public places’ or ‘makes claims regarding government conspiracies’ …”
Bush said TAG was instrumental in adding the following language to the Austin center’s policy:
“The ARIC will not seek, collect or retain information about an individual or organization, and originating agencies will not submit such information, solely on the basis of religious, political, or social views or activities.”
Bush also noted that TAG would pursue a legislative remedy to back privacy concerns in the upcoming 82nd Texas Legislative Session.
For further information on fusion centers, or the possible privacy rights violations they represent, Bush may be contacted at (512)773-6102.