How Foreign Names Trip Up Terrorism Databases – Interview with CEO Carl Hoffman – Information Week

In last month’s Boston Marathon bombing, the key suspect’s name, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had multiple spellings on U.S. intelligence watch lists.

How can we beat this problem?

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have many tools at their disposal to fight terrorism. But the most basic of mistakes, often the result of human error, can have deadly consequences. A suspected terrorist’s name, for instance, may be spelled differently on various watch lists, an error that can make it difficult to identify and track a potentially dangerous individual.

Carl Hoffman, founder and CEO of Basis Technology, an 18-year-old text analytics software company based in Cambridge, Mass., sees this as a serious problem that needs to be addressed right away.