ALA

Terrorism Information Awareness

including information on

Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS)


 
Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere. The black-mustachio'd face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston's own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC. In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the Police Patrol, snooping into people's windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered. —  George Orwell, 1984
 

 
See also
 
Why the ADVISE Data-Mining Program May be Very Ill-Advised: Reports of Likely Privacy Violations Point to the Need to Mandate Specific Privacy Safeguards (March 8, 2007)

"According to a recent news story, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may have violated federal privacy laws by using American citizens' data without providing legally-required notice to the public. Reportedly, the data was used to test out a new data-mining program entitled Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE), that could take effect as soon as 2008. ADVISE is being tested via several DHS pilot programs, including one at the Office of Intelligence and Analysis."

SEC. 880. PROHIBITION OF THE TERRORISM INFORMATION AND PREVENTION SYSTEM.
Any and all activities of the Federal Government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System) are hereby prohibited.

 

In the News: TIA | American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): TIPS | ALA Policy on Governmental Intimidation | FBI in Your Library | The USA Patriot Act in the Library | Confidentiality and Coping with Law Enforcement Inquiries: Guidelines for the Library and its StaffPrivacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights | Questions and Answers on Privacy and ConfidentialityIn Defense of Freedom | Bill of Rights Defense Committee | Resolution Reaffirming the Principles of Intellectual Freedom in the Aftermath of Terrorist Attacks |


"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, "The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”—Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. U.S. (1928)

“What happened was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to be governed by surprise, to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believe that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. ~ The crises and reforms (real reforms too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ~ To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted.’ ~ Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. ~ Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing) . . . You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”—A German professor describing the coming of fascism in They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer


In the News: Terrorist Information Awareness

New Name of Pentagon Data Sweep Focuses on Terror (May 21, 2003)

"Saying they are worried about Americans' privacy, Pentagon officials announced in a report today that they were changing the name of a projected system to mine databases for information to help catch terrorists to Terrorist Information Awareness from Total Information Awareness."

Pentagon Reassures Congress on Spy System  (May 20, 2003)
 
"The Pentagon (news - web sites) assured Congress that its planned anti-terror surveillance system will only analyze legally acquired information and changed the name of the project to help allay privacy concerns that prompted congressional restrictions."
 
A Spy Machine of DARPA's Dreams  (May 20, 2003)
 
"The Pentagon is about to embark on a stunningly ambitious research project designed to gather every conceivable bit of information about a person's life, index all the information and make it searchable."
 
Information on Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) report about TIA to Congress:

Terrorism Information Awareness Program (formerly “Total Information Awareness Program”) Guide to the Report to Congress

Press Release: Report to Congress Regarding the Terrorism Information Awareness Program

Executive Summary: Report to Congress Regarding the Terrorism Information Awareness Program

Report to Congress Regarding the Terrorism Information Awareness Program

Privacy's Gap: The Largely Non-Existent Legal Framework for Government Mining of Commercial Data  (May 19, 2003)
 
"Government officials defending plans to 'mine' private commercial databases looking for suspicious patterns indicative of possible terrorist activity have argued that all such data mining will be conducted in strict compliance with applicable privacy laws. What privacy laws might those be? An analysis of existing law shows that there are, in fact, few legal constraints on government access to commercial databases. The Privacy Act does not apply to private sector databases, laws on specific categories of commercial data are riddled with exceptions for law enforcement or intelligence uses, and the Constitution does not protect consumer data held by private companies."
 
Why total information awareness will do much more harm than good (March 3, 2003)
“That is, the system will arrest almost 3 million innocent people, about 3,000 times the number of guilty ones.”
 
Homeland Insecurity: Is your privacy in danger? (December 12, 2002)
“We've now let fear of terrorism make us forget our history, and we've surrendered accountability and privacy.”

The Legal Twists in Securing a Homeland (posted here, December 5, 2002)
“You have to question the wisdom of legislation that encourages private citizens to share information they've collected with our federal government. Offer them immunity from civil prosecution for their information and you're asking for a witch hunt. Prevent the press from gaining access to the information and source materials, and you've got a formula for framing innocent citizens and a prescription for a cover-up.”

Total Information Awareness for the Ages (December 3, 2002)
“The Pentagon assures us we have nothing to fear from its new Total Information Awareness (TIA) counter-terrorism project, a colossal effort to assemble and "mine" massive databases of our credit card purchases, car rentals, airline tickets, official records and the like. The aim is to monitor the public's whereabouts, movements and transactions to glean suspicious patterns that indicate terrorist planning and other shenanigans. Well, we shouldn't always trust the assurance of the Pentagon.”

Department of Homeland Security (November 25, 2002)
“On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed the "Homeland Security Act of 2002" into law. The Act restructures and strengthens the executive branch of the Federal Government to better meet the threat to our homeland posed by terrorism. In establishing a new Department of Homeland Security, the Act for the first time creates a Federal department whose primary mission will be to help prevent, protect against, and respond to acts of terrorism on our soil. ”

Big Brother's big win (November 20, 2002)
“This week's closed-door ruling by a secretive court will give the feds unprecedented domestic spying powers, a constitutional expert says.”

A Snooper's Dream (November 18, 2002)
“The threat of terrorism has created a powerful appetite in Washington for sophisticated surveillance systems to identify potential terrorists. These efforts cannot be allowed, however, to undermine civil liberties. There is a program now in the research stage at the Pentagon that, if left unchecked by Congress, could do exactly that. Ostensibly designed to enhance national security, it could lead to an invasion of personal privacy on a massive scale.”

ACLU Calls on President Bush to Disavow New Cyber-Spying Scheme That Seeks to Put Every American Under Scrutiny (November 14, 2002)
“The American Civil Liberties Union today called on President Bush to disavow a new system being developed at the Pentagon that would be able to track every American’s activities.”

You Are a Suspect (November 14, 2002)
“If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’”

Pentagon Plans a Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans (November 9, 2002)
“The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States.”

Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision (August 15, 2002)
“Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be ‘enemy combatants’ has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.”

Joe Lieberman Joins Big Brother: The Return of the Thought Police (August 12, 2002)
“By directing Americans to conduct illegal searches—searches the police would not have the authority to conduct without a warrant—on their fellow Americans, the U.S. Government is essentially turning the average citizen into an extension of the thought police.”

Antiterror tipster plan to be overhauled (August 10, 2002)
“The Operation TIPS program being instituted by the Justice Department initially was to have been launched this month. But on Friday, officials said it will not be put into effect until Congress returns in September. The idea is to allow time for consultation with lawmakers, they said. In the meantime, the department modified the plan to exclude as would-be tipsters people from industries and government agencies that often have access to people's homes. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System will focus instead on workers who operate on the highways, such as truck drivers, and at the ports of entry, officials said.”

TIPS Watch
“John Ashcroft and the Bush Administration’s insatiable appetite for new powers in the wake of 9/11 has taken on an alarming dimension — the recruitment of American workers, including your meter reader and your cable technician among them — to spy on their fellow Americans.”

Ashcroft’s Master Plan to Spy on Us (August 2, 2002)
“But Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, ranking Democrat on the Government Oversight Committee’s National Security Oversight Subcommittee, told Bill Berkowitz in The Progressive: ‘It appears we are being transformed from an information society to an informant society.’”

This Delivery Guy Won't Spy (July 31, 2002)
“After the World Trade Center attack, my fellow workers and I — along with my company's management — donated time and money to support the victims of this crisis. We will be there for our country — and our customers — anytime we are needed. But a program that asks people like us to do surveillance is a dangerous overreaction. It threatens the trust we've built in the communities we serve every day. After all, part of being free in America is knowing that the people who live and work in your neighborhood are not reporting on your activities. To surrender that freedom is to give a victory to the terrorists who thought they could intimidate an entire nation. As for me, I won't live in fear and I won't foster it, either.”

The Societal Costs of Surveillance (July 26, 2002)
“But today in America, I wonder what can get a person into trouble. What if the exterminator, whose monthly visits keep my house pest free, suddenly registers my last name as unusual? I’m a transplant to Hawaii and not a member of its common ethnic groups. What if the person who fixed my window screens tells someone about the Islamic-style plaque in my kitchen, the one with the 99 names of God written in Arabic script, a beautiful reminder of a short tourist trip to Pakistan before all this started? What if the man who delivered some furniture the other day reports the phone call he heard me take from my father, the one in which I commiserated with him about the stock market and said nasty things about people in power? What will happen when the snooping begins?”

War on Terrorism or Police State? (July 25, 2002)
“For, if we win the war on terrorism, but create a police state in the process, what have we won?”

Stop the Government from Turning Neighbor Against Neighbor!
“In one of the most misguided responses to the terrorist attacks, President Bush is proposing a program to recruit one million volunteers to act as spies and informants against their neighbors.”

The Furor Over TIPS (July 23, 2002)
“‘The notion that you would actually encourage people who are not empowered or trained to do so, to snoop on their fellow citizens and report [on] them is particularly spooky,’ says Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. ‘There seems to be no limits, no controls, no guidelines, no rules, no nothing.’”

A chill in the library (July 23, 2002)
“Under the USA-Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, librarians have been made unwitting partners in the FBI’s search for potential terrorists. Any records a library might retain on a patron’s reading choices or Internet use are now retrievable by federal law enforcement with an easily obtainable court order. Librarians, traditionally defenders of intellectual freedom, are being pressed to become extensions of law enforcement, and many are balking at the new job description.”

Cops, not mailmen, should hunt terrorists (July 23, 2002)
“Americans have enough to fear from terrorists. They shouldn’t have to fear their neighbors, too.”

Republican Majority Leader Armey Rejects White House Plans for Operation TIPS, National ID (July 18, 2002)
“‘Majority Leader Armey has taken a courageous step in insisting that we protect our privacy in the fight against terror,’ said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. ‘There is no place in America for either an internal passport or for utility workers and cable technicians to become government-sanctioned peeping toms.’”

Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS)
“Operation TIPS — the Terrorism Information and Prevention System — will be a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity. Operation TIPS, a project of the U.S. Department of Justice, will begin as a pilot program in 10 cities that will be selected.” See also What Is Operation TIPS?, Planned volunteer-informant corps elicits “1984” fears, and ACLU Says Bush Administration Should Not Allow Operation TIPS To Become An End Run Around Constitution.


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