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E-mail terror alert system suspended - WSJ

29 November 2002  |  2899 views  |  0 NewYork2

The Wall Street Journal reports that a US government e-mail system designed to alert banks to terror finance suspects has been suspended after overwhelming users with out-of-date and incomplete information day and night.

The system, intended to consolidate multiple government lists of suspect individuals in line with US Patriot Act provisions, was closed after just three weeks of operation following user complaints about the value and volume of information received, says the paper.

Bank compliance officers say the system indiscriminately pushed out 'urgent' alerts day and night. Multiple branches of the same bank, for example, would get identical e-mails requesting the same information. One banking official charged with evaluating the alerts told the paper that his Blackberry pager repeatedly woke him up with them in the middle of the night.

Other complaints centred on the quality of information despatched, with FBI agents reportedly turning in reports on pending investigations, or circulating out-of-date lists. Banks weren't sure how to respond or to whom, participants told the paper, and many were flooding investigators with e-mails requesting more information.

The US Treasury Department, responsible for managing the consolidated watch list, has issued a statement vowing to fix the problems and re-start the service as soon as possible.

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