5.2.1. What is Data Sharing and Why is it Important    (3XM1)

Data sharing is the use of information by one or more consumers that is produced by another source other than the consumer. The need for data sharing often manifests itself in ways that are difficult to predict in advance. This is illustrated by a July 2005 Washington Post article entitled “Pilots Claimed Disability but Kept Flight Status”. In this article, the Washington Post reported a curious correspondence between records from Social Security Administration (SSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Forty pilots who claimed to FAA they were fit to fly were arrested in Northern California, because they had reported debilitating illnesses to SSA that should have grounded them. The data sharing between FAA and SSA that led to the discovery of criminal wrongdoing was somewhat ad hoc in this case; however, it demonstrates how the approaches to data sharing that are described in this chapter could facilitate uncovering many other correlations of interest.    (3XM2)

Such data sharing is of importance on the local to federal level as well. On August 17, 2005, in the article entitled “L.A. Holdups Linked to Islamic Group, Possible Terrorist Plot,” the Washington Post reported that a police probe of gas station holdups in Los Angeles grew into an investigation of a possible terrorist plot with connections to a radical Islamic group. The local investigation into the holdups was taken over by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force when L.A. police discovered jihadist literature, bulletproof vests and a list of addresses for local synagogues, the Israeli consulate, National Guard centers and more, in the home of one of the suspects. An anonymous U.S. official was quoted as saying there was reason to believe that terrorist attacks were planned with some of these locations as targets.    (3XM3)

While it may have been physical evidence that led the local authorities to contact the FBI in this case, it is easy to imagine how the FBI might have decided to become involved by examining the data collected (reported) by L.A. police.    (3XM4)