Trouble with the Terrorist Watch List Database Case Study

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Trouble with the Terrorist Watch List Database Case Study

1. What concepts in this chapter are illustrated in this case?

Many of the advantages (and shortcomings) of database management systems (DBMS) are illustrated by the terrorist watch list case study. For instance, the watch list solves some of the problems of traditional file environment by reducing redundancy (each agency with some responsibility for homeland security maintaining its own separate list). Also, ideally the list should minimize data inconsistency. DBMS includes tools for accessing and manipulating the information in the database (test, p. 245). This should be helpful on a terrorist watch list in which changes, deletions and retrieval of data may be required by multiple users.

2. Why was the consolidated terrorist watch list crated? What are the benefits of the list?

The list was created in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, when critics of US intelligence suggested that the lack of shared information among intelligence agencies was partially responsible for our vulnerability to attack. Specifically, the list was created “to organize and standardize information about suspected terrorists…into a single list to enhance communication between agencies.” Prior to creation of the list, these agencies “lacked a consistent process to share relevant information concerning the individual’s on each agency’s list.”

The benefits of the list include its daily updating, which keeps it current. Also, the same information on the list is distributed to many agencies in an effort to deter or detect the movements of known or suspected terrorists. This should aid law enforcement by insuring that all agencies receive identical data. Finally, each agency should receive subsets of the data on the master watch list which are relevant to their particular mission. This benefits the individual…...

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