secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

Trusted Flagger FOIA & FBI Central Records

Last year, on the tail end of the House Committee on the Judiciary’s hearings Facebook, Google and Twitter: Examining the Content Filtering Practices of Social Media GiantsI submitted a FOIA to multiple agencies requesting disclosure of their participation in Youtube’s Trusted Flagger program. Many of my requests remain outstanding. However, a recent correspondence with the Public Information Officer, Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS) FBI-Information Management Division is noteworthy for its insights into FBI records systems and the FOIA process.

Uploaded to this post is a document released to me by the Public information Officer that I could not locate on the Web. This document, titled The Central Records System, may be of interest to requestors and the general public as it clarifies FBI’s internal information policies. Highlights include:

  • The Central Records System (“CRS”) is an extensive system of records consisting of applicant, investigative, intelligence, personnel, administrative, and general files compiled and maintained by the FBI in the course of fulfilling its integrated missions and functions as a law enforcement, counterterrorism, and intelligence agency to include performance of administrative and personnel functions (p.1).
  • For identification and retrieval purposes across the FBI, when a case file is opened, it is assigned a Universal Case File Number (“UCFN”) consisting of three sequential components: (a) the CRS file classification number, (b) the abbreviation of the FBI Office of Origin (“OO”) initiating the file, and (c) the assigned individual case file number for that particular subject matter (p.1).
  • FBI Special Agents (“SA”) and/or designated support personnel may index information in the CRS by individual (persons), by organization (organizational entities, places, and things), and by event (e.g., a terrorist attack or bank robbery). Indexing information in the CRS is based on operational necessity, and the FBI only indexes that information considered relevant and necessary for future retrieval (p.2).
  • Automated Case Support (“ACS”) is an electronic, integrated case management system that became effective for FBIHQ and all FBI Field Offices and Legats on October 1, 1995. As part of the ACS implementation process, over 105 million CRS records were converted from automated systems previously utilized by the FBI into a single, consolidated case management system accessible by all FBI offices (p.2).
  • The Universal Index (“UNI”) is the automated index of the CRS and provides all offices of the FBI a centralized, electronic means of indexing pertinent investigative information to FBI files for future retrieval via index searching (p.2).
  • Sentinel provides a web-based interface to FBI users, and it includes the same automated application that is utilized in ACS. After July 1, 2012, all FBI generated records are created electronically in case files via Sentinel; however, Sentinel did not replace ACS and its relevance as an important FBI search mechanism (p.3).

My correspondence (fbi interchange_sm) with the Public Information Officer is further enlightening for this comment (emphasis added):

You are further advised that while the FBI may consider requests to search specific locations of systems, it is not bound by requester search instructions; the agency determines where any records sought would be reasonably be found.



Written by S.

February 2, 2019 at 12:54 am