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Why Is the ATF Seeking a 'Massive' New Automated Database?

"It could still help agents track you down a lot faster than they could before..."

This photo taken Jan. 23, 2013 shows Traci Slonacker photographing firearm transaction documents, from dealers no longer in business, at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Trace Center in Martinsburg, W.Va,. (Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)

(Image: AFT/Wikimedia)

A recent solicitation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revealed it is seeking a "massive online data repository system" that would "rapidly" check records for investigations.

Information would include "names, telephone numbers, utility data and reverse phone look-ups" that would help agents with "background research on people, assets and businesses."

The database for ATF's Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information, according to the request for proposals that was issued last month, would allow it to provide "timely and relevant information and intelligence products to law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels." The office already provides such information but it is often manually collected and therefore takes more time to produce.

Wired noted that the request for proposals says nothing about tracking gun sales. The Huffington Post spoke more with ATF about the database's purpose:

ATF spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun said the new database would not be used to analyze gun purchases, but instead would be used to gather publicly-available data without requiring agents to go to multiple sources.

Here's more about the system ATF is seeking:

ATF needs an online system that provides the following: nationwide utility data, expert plus search and extended law enforcement search capability, obtain exact matches from partial source data searches such as, incomplete social security numbers, address, VIN numbers, etc., phonetic name spelling, location radius, or age range, address mapping, conduct a linear search of an individual, ability to link structured and unstructured data to find connection points between two or more individuals.

This photo taken Jan. 23, 2013 shows Traci Slonacker photographing firearm transaction documents, from dealers no longer in business, at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Trace Center in Martinsburg, W.Va,. (Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)

Wired went on to state that even though the database would not necessarily be used for keeping tabs on gun purchases, "it could still help agents track you down a lot faster than they could before — along with finding out everything else about you."

The work set out for a contractor would be for five years with ATF needing 24/7 tech support via email or online services to meet its needs.

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