In September, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois asked a state court in Chicago to compel the Illinois State Police (ISP) to turn over records about the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC).
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STIC is Illinois’ “fusion center,” an entity that integrates the gathering, storage, sharing, and analysis of information about suspected criminal activity among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Illinois. Fusion centers have been a focal point for controversy because they collect and share massive amounts of personal information about members of the public, often without adequate safeguards, oversight, and transparency.
Illinois’ STIC is operated by the ISP, and is based in Springfield. Its original mandate in 2003 was to gather terrorism intelligence, but its mission has dramatically expanded beyond terrorism to cover information about all crimes, hazards, and threats. STIC has scores of employees, and hosts analysts from a broad array of federal, state, and local police agencies. STIC has direct access to dozens of public and private record systems containing sensitive information about many members of the public, including criminal background, digital photographs, and employment, medical, and credit history. Without proper safeguards and oversight, this vast concentration of sensitive information in government hands endangers civil liberties. It is unclear whether Illinois has adopted the necessary privacy rule – which is why the ACLU has filed this FOIA enforcement lawsuit.