The concept of information sharing among a community of vetted users is appealing – – and it has been tried numerous times. Back in the ’90s when InfraGard started membership grew quickly at the promise of getting threat and attack information from the US Government. Alas after a few years it was at least tacitly admitted that the information flow would be one way, from private industry to government.

Now we have the Homeland Security Information Network [HSIN]. An organization where you need to be nominated and vetted to participate in this information exchange. They have built up a web site / portal, processes and structure for this effort, but the question is will any truly unique and valuable information be provided through HSIN? My guess is no.

First you have the history working against it. The government bureaucracy, caution and rules made and information sharing anything sensitive and helpful the exception.

Second, you have the real problem that anything passed on the HSIN is very likely to leaked and become publicly known. These rules and procedures keep honest people honest, and it only takes one person to make the information public. Maybe it is someone who thinks it’s important everyone knows or has some advantage if the info is public. Maybe it is someone on the list telling someone in his company who needs to know, and that person doesn’t know or care about the HSIN rules. One way or another the info will get out so the USG has a legitimate reason not to put the information they want to keep secret out there.

I’ve attended a lot of non-press, limited audience, special briefings from the government over the past ten years. In almost all cases the information was already public and not warranting the special procedures. So now we avoid these briefings and organizations, like HSIN, so it is clear we have not violated any rules.