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Utah officially out of MATRIX program

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Utah's involvement in the controversial MATRIX program is officially over.

Gov. Olene Walker announced Friday the state will withdraw its participation in the project. Her decision came the day after a legislative panel recommended the state stay out of the supercomputer database until adequate safeguards are established.

"Based on the information made by the review committee, and also upon the information I have received, I have informed state agencies we will not reinstate our participation in MATRIX," Walker said in a written statement.

Walker's suspended the state's involvement in MATRIX on Jan. 29 until a review committee was able to explore the program further.

Though the review committee members couldn't decide exactly what "adequate oversight" means, they did decide to let the Legislature forge a definition of the term in a series of public hearings. Walker agreed with the approach.

"I appreciate that this was an open, public process which allowed concerned citizens to weigh in on the issue," she said.

The Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange was a one-time nationwide effort combining government and commercially available databases on citizens and others to fight crime and terrorism.

MATRIX combined confidential information from local and state agencies, such as criminal backgrounds, motor vehicle registrations and driver's license records, with hundreds of publicly available databases to create a super database of billions of records that can be searched in minutes.

Walker's predecessor, former Gov. Mike Leavitt, had signed the state up for the program without consulting other elected officials. Leavitt, now the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has refused to answer questions about the program since.

Out of the 13 states initially in the project, only Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania remain.