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Michael Chertoff on Homeland Security

Director of Homeland Security


Fighting identity theft needs more careful focus

Q: Weíve had material breaches with respect to companies like Choicepoint, Lexis Nexis. And have you directed your department to look at that as a potential risk for us to be concerned about?

A: The area of identity theft is a very serious area that we are concerned about from a number of different standpoints. I mean, obviously from a cyber-security standpoint, weíre concerned about hackers. Thatís one kind of threat. My understanding, at least in the Choicepoint case, is it wasnít so much a hacker as it was their internal decision to sell some of their product to somebody who turned out to be different than who they expected. I do agree that the issue of identity theft and identity misuse isnít something that we are very carefully focused on in terms of a whole range of issues that we consider in the department, including things like screening for identity. And that brings us to the issue of biometrics, which of course is one way to deal with this kind of problem.

Source: Testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee , Apr 13, 2005

Set guidelines for state and local governments to follow

We issued Interim National Preparedness Code, which basically sets forth 10 tasks & 38 capabilities, which cover the range of things we think that state and local governments need to be able to be prepared to do in the event of any number of scenarios that might occur. In building those capabilities, we essentially imagined a bunch of scenarios that were pretty grim and then used those as ways of identifying the kinds of things you would need to be able to do if something like that happened. Underneath that one document is a series of templates on each of those capabilities that is really quite specific about what kinds of things one needs to be able to do. In a city we might say you need to be able to get hazardous material personnel to a place within a certain period of time. In a rural community, it might be a longer period of time. And because itís capabilities-based, it is designed to allow local governments to find different ways to achieve the capability as long as they get there.
Source: Testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee , Apr 13, 2005

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Page last updated: Dec 15, 2011