Posted by Acting Chief Privacy Officer Jonathan R. Cantor
On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Privacy Office, I am proud to present its eighth Annual Report to Congress.
The DHS Privacy Office ensures that privacy protections are built into Department systems, programs, and initiatives as they are developed and implemented. The report summarizes the numerous accomplishments of the DHS Privacy Office from July 2011 through June 2012, under the leadership of my predecessor, former Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan. It explains how the Privacy Office works to ensure that DHS carries out its homeland security mission in a privacy-protective manner.
We’ve accomplished a lot in the past year. Here are a few examples:
- Co-led the negotiation of a joint Statement of Privacy Principles with Canada in support of the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action plan to facilitate the legitimate movement of people, goods, and services across our shared border. By expediting lawful trade and commerce into and across our shared border, the United States and Canada will enhance our economic competitiveness, create jobs and support economic growth.
- Participated as a key member of the negotiating team for the 2012 U.S. - EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement to provide enhanced privacy protections for travelers.
As our office continues to evolve and innovate, we continue to share our expertise and methodology with our peers to improve privacy protection across the entire federal government. I am very happy about these accomplishments, and look forward to leading the DHS Privacy Office into another year of continued achievement.
For more information on the DHS Privacy Office, please visit our website.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Few of us need to be reminded of the impact cyberspace has on our lives. From the kitchen table to the classroom, from business transactions to essential government operations and services, cybersecurity is an issue for all of us. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month reminds us that being safe and secure online is a shared responsibility. During the month of October and throughout the year we call on you to ACT and join DHS in “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.”
While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across the world, it has also increased our shared risk. Every day, criminals and terrorist organizations use cyberspace to exploit vulnerabilities. Their goal is to steal money, ideas, and information. In some cases they may disrupt, threaten, or destroy the availability of critical services such as electric power and running water.
Combating evolving cyber threats requires the engagement of our entire society – from government and law enforcement to the private sector and most importantly, members of the public. We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. That’s why it is our goal at the DHS to make basic cybersecurity practices as reflexive as putting on a seatbelt.
During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we are asking everyone to take these basic steps to improve your online safety and to protect cyberspace:
- Use antivirus software
- Be careful which websites you visit
- Don’t open emails or attachments that look suspicious
- Set strong passwords, and don’t share them with anyone
- Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates
- Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety
- Limit the amount of personal information you post online, and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely
- Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Please help us continue to spread the word about how to stay safe online. And after we ensure that our computers are safe and secure throughout October, let’s continue to protect them throughout the year.
Thank you for your commitment and dedication to this critically important issue. And thank you for your continued partnership as we protect our nation’s cyber systems and networks.
Posted By Assistant Secretary Betsy Markey
Over the past year, I’ve had the exciting opportunity to introduce partnerships between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments in support of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” awareness campaign. Today is the fifth time that I have had the pleasure to personally announce a new partner in this important initiative.
This afternoon, I was in Madison, WI to join Governor Walker, Attorney General Van Hollen, Major General Dunbar and law enforcement and homeland security officials in announcing a new “If You See Something, Say Something™” partnership with the state of Wisconsin.
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign encourages citizens to speak up if they see something that seems out of place – like an unattended bag – and gives individuals information about how to report suspicious activities. The Badger State will take a number of innovative steps to help deliver these important safety messages to its more than 5.7 million residents.
“If You See Something, Say Something™” messages will appear on digital billboards on major highways and thruways across the state, including I-94, WIS 57, and WIS 164, from Oshkosh to Westbend to Jefferson and a variety of other cities. Additionally, “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign posters will be hung in a variety of venues around the state to engage a host of sectors and communities throughout Wisconsin. For example, in Madison, posters with photos of the state capitol will be on display, as well as posters with images of Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Pictures of Miller Park and Summerfest will also accompany these materials in Milwaukee.
With the help of the Milwaukee Police Department, the state’s two fusion centers are launching a new website, WiWatch.org, where additional information about the campaign is posted and where Wisconsinites can report suspicious activity. Later this year, Public Service Announcements on television and radio will also air in Wisconsin.
Secretary Napolitano often says that homeland security begins with hometown security – and partnerships like the one we are announcing today are integral to these efforts. DHS is proud to partner with state governments like Wisconsin, local governments and the private sector on this campaign. Together, we can encourage the identification and reporting of suspicious activity so we can keep communities across Wisconsin, and around the entire country, safe. So, while you’re driving, attending a sports game or shopping at your local store, remember: “If You See Something, Say Something™”.
Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, members of the emergency response community – police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel came together, in conjunction with the Federal government, to strengthen emergency communications capabilities through enhanced coordination, planning, training, and new equipment. Through the President’s Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative, the Administration outlined its commitment to the development and deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network for use by emergency responders throughout the country.
The establishment of the FirstNet Board represents an important milestone in the implementation of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, and today, I had the privilege of joining my fellow board members at the inaugural meeting to provide our nation’s first responders with a dedicated communications network to help them share information and communicate during emergency situations. The FirstNet Board will work directly with first responders to ensure that the design, construction, and governance of a nationwide network is done efficiently and effectively.
The FirstNet Board is ready to tackle the challenge before us, and DHS is committed to ensuring that the establishment of a nationwide network meets the needs of our nation’s emergency responders. To that end, DHS is providing technical assistance to states to update their Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans, and engaging federal, state, local, territorial and tribal public safety groups in the development of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.
For more information on the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network please go to www.dhs.gov/PublicSafetyBroadband.
Today, I was honored to join 225 individuals, representing 69 different nations, as they took the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens at the National Archives, in the heart of our nation’s capital. The National Archives is home to the Charters of Freedom – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
We also honored the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution and recognize the rights and freedoms it guarantees. In commemoration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, the Department of Homeland Security will welcome more than 32,000 new citizens during 158 naturalization ceremonies across the country this week.
I take great pride in my role as Secretary of the Department responsible for immigration and citizenship. Since 2006, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has welcomed more than four million new citizens to our country. Last year alone, more than 691,000 people became citizens.
Welcoming enterprising immigrants into the American family is a fundamental part of our heritage and a critical piece of our continued success as a nation. These 225 newest citizens remind us that America is still a beacon of hope and opportunity for others, and I am happy to welcome them to our American family.
Originially posted by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Rich Serino on Thursday, August 13, 2012
Yesterday, we welcomed 231 energetic members into the first ever FEMA Corps class. The members just finished off their first month of training with our partners at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and are one step closer to working in the field on disaster response and recovery. They will now head to FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness to spend the next two weeks training in their FEMA position-specific roles. Once they complete both the CNCS and FEMA training, these 231 dedicated FEMA Corps members will be qualified to work in one of a variety of disaster related roles, ranging from Community Relations to Disaster Recovery Center support.
FEMA Corps builds on the great work of AmeriCorps to establish a service cadre dedicated to disaster response and recover. To be sure, responding to disasters is nothing new for Americorps. In fact, the great work that AmeriCorps already does during disasters was the inspiration for FEMA Corps. When I visited communities all over the country that were devastated by disasters, from Joplin, MO to Bastrop, Texas, I always encountered the incredible members of AmeriCorps lending a helping hand to survivors. I was continually struck by the level of compassion, dedication, and skill these members brought to the table.
The inductees are pioneers, combining the exceptional record of citizen service at AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps with FEMA’s specialized mission of supporting survivors with their recovery after a disaster. The new members, who range in age from 18-24 years old, will contribute to a dedicated, trained, and reliable disaster workforce by working full-time for ten months on federal disaster response and recovery efforts. As we announced in March, FEMA Corps sets the foundation for a new generation of emergency managers; it promotes civic engagement and offers an educational and financial opportunity for young people; and is designed to strengthen the nation’s disaster response by supplementing FEMA’s existing Reservist workforce.
I commend and thank every member of the inaugural class of FEMA Corps for their dedication to helping communities in need. Welcome to FEMA Corps!
Secretary Napolitano today announced that Maria Odom has been appointed as the new Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman. Ms. Odom brings substantial knowledge of immigration law and valuable experience working with community partners to address challenges with immigration and citizenship services. As Ombudsman, Ms. Odom will lead the Ombudsman’s Office as they continue to provide assistance to the public, while also recommending ways U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can improve the delivery of immigration services and benefits.
Ms. Odom most recently served as Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), since September 2009, where she led a national network of community-based immigration programs. Early in her career, Maria served in a number of roles in the U.S. Department of Justice, including positions at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and as counsel for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service. Maria also practiced immigration law in the private sector for many years. A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Odom holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Florida State University and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University in Georgia.
Ms. Odom replaces January Contreras who departed earlier this year. Debra Rogers, who has been serving as Acting Ombudsman will serve again as Deputy Director of the Ombudsman’s Office.
At DHS, we believe that homeland security begins with hometown security. Security is a shared responsibility, and each citizen has a role to play in identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
We’re all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that’s what the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign is all about. If you see something that doesn’t look right, report it to local authorities.
On Thursday, September 6, I joined Simon Property Group Executive Vice President of Property Management Tim Earnest to announce a new partnership with the Simon Property Group as a part of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign.
This new partnership will take the campaign to shopping malls and retail centers across the United States. By providing signs in hallways and service areas that are used by Simon and tenant employees, DHS will encourage employees to say something when they see something suspicious. This could be an unattended package or suspicious behavior, like a person entering a restricted area that shouldn’t be there or leaving an item under a bench or behind a trash can.
Materials for employees will initially be in 20 Simon locations in Indiana and Virginia, and we’re working with Simon to expand to other properties in the future.
Originally developed by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, "If You See Something, Say Something™" is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to raise awareness of indicators of terrorism, and emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
DHS has expanded the program by partnering with cities, states, universities and private businesses, including the transportation, hospitality and retail sectors. In each sector, we have provided materials and collaborated on advertisements to help engage and educate the public as well as those working behind the scenes. And our new partnership with the Simon Property Group will allow us to continue expanding the program across the country.
We have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism and crime time and again. Last year, a concerned gun store owner in Killeen, Texas called authorities after becoming suspicious of a customer’s purchases and helped to prevent a likely attack at Fort Hood. And a concerned citizen’s report helped to foil a planned attack against a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade route in Washington State in 2010.
When we each do our part, we keep our nation safe, one hometown at a time.
If a disaster strikes, how will you and your family be ready? During the month of September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Ready.gov teams are focusing on planning and preparing for disasters during National Preparedness Month.
This month, DHS is asking you to “Pledge to Prepare.” Visit ready.gov/prepare to see simple steps you can take, such as keeping an emergency kit in your office and at home and keeping copies of important family documents in a safe place.
Being prepared means having a plan. Whether you are at home, at work or on-the-go, it’s important to create a plan in case of an emergency. Planning ahead will ensure that you and your family will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are. In your home? Think ahead with your Family Emergency Plan. At work or school? Ensure you and your family are informed about hazards in your surrounding area and know the best ways to contact one another if you are separated during a disaster.
We have already seen a number of disasters this year, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and most recently, Hurricane Isaac. When an emergency strikes your area, knowing what to do before, during and after may make all the difference when seconds count.
Watch the video of myself and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate asking for your help in keeping each other safe, and then head to Ready.gov to take the pledge today.
As Tropical Depression Isaac moves inland, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Coast Guard continue to support our state and local partners through ongoing response and recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast and impacted areas.
At the direction of President Obama, Secretary Napolitano, FEMA Administrator Fugate and other federal officials have spoken with state, local, and tribal leaders to identify and respond to needs. In addition, FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard are contributing to the response and recovery efforts through direct coordination with state and local teams operating on the ground in affected areas. These agencies are providing key assistance to those impacted by Tropical Depression Isaac.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA and its federal partners, through the FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., and Regional Offices in Atlanta, Ga. and Denton, Texas, continue to monitor Tropical Depression Isaac and remain in constant contact with state emergency management partners in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
- Federal Coordinating Officers are on the ground in Mississippi and Louisiana, working closely with state and local officials to provide the full resources of the federal government to support response efforts to protect lives and property.
- FEMA, in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, deployed four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Campbell, KY and two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Norfolk Naval Air Station, VA, to assist in search and rescue efforts. A Search and Rescue planner has also been activated and deployed to the Baton Rouge Emergency Operations Center.
- Incident Management Assistance Teams are in state emergency operations centers in Mississippi and Louisiana, in addition to supporting state and local needs in Plaquemines Parish, La.
- Six Mobile Emergency Response Teams are deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi to support state emergency communications requirements.
- Disability Integration Advisors are deployed to areas along the Gulf Coast, in order to assist individuals with disabilities in impacted areas.
- Four Emergency Planners Liaison Officers from U.S. Northern Command were deployed to the National Response Coordination Center in support of FEMA and Fort Polk, LA has been designated as a Federal Team Staging Area. The command has activated Region VI Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO), and Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) to Baton Rouge, LA, to validate, plan and coordinate potential DOD support of FEMA's hurricane response operations and to facilitate DOD's support of potential life-saving and response operations.
- FEMA's Private Sector Representative in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) in Washington, D.C. continues to engage National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) members requesting store open/closed status from impacted areas.
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is continuing reconstitution and recovery efforts, and is rapidly assessing impacts to the maritime transportation system in order to restore flow of commerce through the ports and the Mississippi River. The Coast Guard continues to communicate with federal, state and local authorities to identify personnel and resources to respond to calls for assistance.
- Seven U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and one fixed wing maritime patrol aircraft are conducting search and rescue operations, port assessments and off shore patrols in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The Coast Guard has responded to a variety of stranded persons in all of the parishes affected by the storm. As of (Aug. 30, 1800) 17 people and 2 pets have been rescued.
- U.S. Coast Guard cutters are en route to New Orleans to deliver food and water to affected persons.
- U.S. Coast Guard Disaster Response Teams, damage assessment teams and waterway assessment personnel are pre-staged and ready to respond.
- The Coast Guard has liaisons embedded at various emergency operations centers including the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to ensure a coordinated effort as all of us focus on life saving and to effect a rapid recovery of impacted areas.
- The Coast Guard has moved assets (boats, cutters, and aircraft) out of the path of the storm in order to ensure they are properly prepared to respond at the first sign of the storm’s passing.
DHS and FEMA continue to urge residents in affected areas to monitor local weather forecasts and to follow the guidance and direction of state and local officials. For more information on what to do during or after severe weather, visit ready.gov and follow @Readydotgov on Twitter. For continuing updates on federal response efforts as well as safety tips, visit fema.gov and follow @FEMA and @DHSgov on Twitter.