Nebraska Society Internship 2005

Internship: Department of Homeland Security

At the Department of Homeland Security this summer, I had the opportunity to learn how the government protects our personal data. I worked in the Privacy Office, DHS’s built in check and balance regarding the implications of the Department’s use of individually identifiable information. In today’s world, we live in the Information Age. Supercomputers hold petabytes of information about us and biometric identifiers can detect our identity through finger prints, photographs, iris scans, and even by the way one walks or talks. In addition, personal information has become a prized commodity sold between the private and public sectors. The job of the DHS Privacy Office is this information age is to protect our individual data from misuse by the rest of the Department.

As an intern in the Privacy Office, I was given amazing opportunities to participate in the Office’s day to day work. Some of my projects included compiling an office briefing for Secretary Chertoff, a comparative analysis of data retention policies in countries around the world, and the first draft of a speech given by the Chief Privacy Officer at an international data protection conference in Switzerland. I also attended several meetings and conferences including a transatlantic dialogue on privacy and data protection between the EU and the U.S., a meeting between public and private sector experts concerning the development of a privacy framework for the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC), and a two day conference in Boston on the grounds of Harvard University for the Office’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.