Florida was the first to broker a deal with Seisint, Inc., the private computer systems company based in Boca Raton that built the database and its software. Seisint was founded by Hank Asher, a drug smuggler-cum-information security expert. Asher also designed Autotrack, a powerful system that law-enforcement officials -- and journalists -- use to locate driving records, addresses and tax information.
It was Asher, too, who removed thousands of African Americans from voter-registration lists shortly before the 2000 election in Florida. His other company, Database Technologies, used similar databases to assess -- in error -- that they were felons.
Hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Asher brought his idea for Matrix to the Florida State Police, offering to build the system for free, Ramer says. Florida accepted, still baffled at how terrorists had been moving around the state undetected as they planned the attacks.
Police later learned of Asher's background and he has since left Seisint. Asher was not available for comment.
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