TR: Who currently uses your software?
JJ: The current customers are governments that are interested in using this to share data with themselves. This is an interesting notion that I think would be a shock to most citizens of any country: You can walk into any government organization and you’ll have one group working on, say, money laundering, and ten doors down you have another group working on drug cartels. The only way they have today to figure out whether they’re working on the same person is to play the game that I refer to as Go Fish. That means one of them has to pick up the phone and call the other and say “Majed Moqed? Khalid al Mihdhar? Threes? Tens? Jacks? Twos?” They’re not going to read the whole list.
This technique allows an entity, whether it’s corporate or government, to compare data that’s trapped in silos, sensitive data that you wouldn’t want to escape. The identity data flows into a central index, and in that index, it figures out when people are the same or related. But it can’t tell you the name or the address or the phone number of the people who are the same because it doesn’t know. When there’s a match, each of the records that match has its pedigree or attribution on it that tells you which system and which record. So it creates a pointer and tells you which record to ask the other group about.
TR: And this is obviously useful for counterterrorism.
JJ: Here’s the scenario: The government has a list of people we should never let into the country. It’s a secret. They don’t want people in other countries to know. And the government tends to not share this list with corporate America. Now, if you have a cruise line, you want to make sure you don’t have people getting on your boat who shouldn’t even be in the United States in the first place. Prior to the U.S. Patriot Act, the government couldn’t go and subpoena 100,000 records every day from every company. Usually, the government would have to go to a cruise line and have a subpoena for a record. Section 215 [of the Patriot Act] allows the government to go to a business entity and say, “We want all your records.” Now, the Fourth Amendment, which is “search and seizure,” has a legal test called “reasonable and particular.” Some might argue that if a government goes to a cruise line and says, “Give us all your data,” it is hard to envision that this would be reasonable and particular.
But what other solution do they have? There was no other solution. Our Anonymous Resolution technology would allow a government to take its secret list and anonymize it, allow a cruise line to anonymize their passenger list, and then when there’s a match it would tell the government: “record 123.” So they’d look it up and say, “My goodness, it’s Majed Moqed.” And it would tell them which record to subpoena from which organization. Now it’s back to reasonable and particular.