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Total Information Awareness: An invation of privacy

by Mark Smith, Opinion editor

 

The hot issue today is Total Information Awareness. This is a global project created as a way to follow terrorist activities. However, many people are skeptical as the project is also viewed as an invasion of privacy and tends to focus more on American citizens than it does on suspected terrorists.

TIA, a huge database, will have the ability to trace all electronic activity from cell phones, ATM withdrawals, credit card purchases, and private e-mails. It will use all of this plus tax and medical records, bank statements, and employment history to track the behavior of every person in the United States.

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One of the many concerns behind TIA involves its director, formal Navy Admiral John Poindexter, who served as former President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Poindexter was convicted of five felonies for the illegal sales of arms to Iran to secretly fund United States’ support of the Contras, a group of paramilitary rebels in Nicaragua. Poindexter’s conviction was later overturned on a technicality.

But the real concern for most Americans is the invasion of privacy and the partial loss of civil liberties.

 

The purpose of TIA, as proposed by Poindexter, is to track terrorists through the “fingerprints” they leave when planning attacks, such as huge credit card purchases, large travel expenses, immigration records, and monetary transfers. The problem here is that many people perform similar actions for nondeviant purposes.

Another concern is the price it would cost to create such a system. Secretary of Defense Peter Aldridge has stated that the cost will be no more that $10 million. A Washington watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, concluded that actual costs would be closer to $240 million.

 

Other concerns over TIA include technical and human errors and illegal entry by hackers.
 

So far, many politicians and leaders have failed to question TIA. One reason is the fear that they may appear lenient on terrorism. Another reason is the advantage for some hometown constituents who will benefit from the millions of dollars that will be available from government spending through TIA.

Currently, TIA is still a research project: however, the official Web site states that government agencies have already received software for field testing.

Source: The Washington Spectator

 

 

 

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