Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Misuse of Interpol's Database

“The Misuse of Interpol’s Database” from the New York Times discusses the issues of security in regards to fugitive alerts in Interpol’s data. Interpol’s “red notice” database is accessible on a global scale and allows authorities to easily monitor people that a “flagged” and should be surveilled on a heavier scale. These red flags could prevent people from being issued visas or traveling, especially if crossing a border to another country. Unfortunately, because this red flag database is accessible by authorities around the world, they also have access to manipulate the data. Due to the violence in the Middle East, the number of refugees has risen exponentially in the past few years. These people are fleeing their home countries in hopes of living a better, safer life in another country. Interpol has noticed an increase in red notices in the past year alone and have found that authoritarian governments have been flagging people in order to manipulate them and prevent them from travelling out of their war-torn countries.
This is a major problem for Interpol because now that there are falsely “flagged” people in their database, the integrity of the data is severely compromised, which is a huge issue given the sensitive information that it contains. Interpol must now find a way to make sure that government officials are not taking advantage of the database, but are in fact, using it according to protocol. One way to go about this is increasing the security for the database in terms of who could actually manipulate the data. While it is important for authorities to be able to read the data so that they know who exactly should be monitored more carefully, they should not all have free reign to write into the database. By increasing the security on the database in terms of who has access to manipulate the information in any way, then Interpol will be able to increase the integrity of the data and limit certain governments from writing into the database with fraudulent red flags.
One of the steps that Interpol has taken towards clearing their database of fraudulent ref flags is by creating a reviewing process of each red flag petition. While this system will help to sift through some of the falsely labelled red flags, this process will take up large amount of time and will slow down the database from receiving up to date information. This new review system could especially slow down cases in which people appeal their red flag and will keep them from travelling out of the country or being unfairly monitored. Due to the violence that is happening widespread throughout the Middle East, Interpol has also made it possible to help any refugees or people with asylum status travel, regardless of their red flag status. The article mentions possibly identifying the governments that are creating these false “red flags” that way other government authorities are aware of possible red flag abuse.


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