Senate Kills Data Mining Program
The U.S. Senate has voted to wipe out funding for a Pentagon data mining
program that the White House says is a critical weapon needed for the
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced an amendment to the Defense
Appropriations Bill Monday that would effectively
Since its inception, TIA (formerly known as the Total Information
Awareness program) has
TIA development and testing has been under way for several months at the
Army's Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Program
officials at DARPA maintain that the testing process relies on synthetic data
and that the final system would focus not on collection but on analysis of
"legally obtained" data. Furthermore, data would first be made anonymous before
intelligent software agents, not human beings, could conduct analysis,
according to program documents obtained by
The House version of the bill, passed earlier this month, imposed advance notification and authorization requirements on the program before money could be used to deploy any part of the system. The program's fate will be determined by a joint House-Senate conference session.
The program got off to a bad start with the appointment of the retired Navy admiral John Poindexter to lead it, said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. Poindexter was convicted in 1990 for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, although that conviction was later overturned.
"From an intelligence policy point of view, something like TIA could help to break down the arbitrary barriers to information-sharing that have long existed among government agencies," said Aftergood. "But DARPA was slow to address the privacy concerns raised by the program. Now they are paying the price."