WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nine months after Congress shut down a controversial Pentagon computer-surveillance program, the U.S. government continues to comb private records to sniff out suspicious activity, according to a congressional report obtained by Reuters.
Privacy concerns prompted Congress to kill the Pentagon’s $54 million Total Information Awareness program last September, but government computers are still scanning a vast array of databases for clues about criminal or terrorist activity, the General Accounting Office found.
Overall, 36 of the government’s 199 ‘data mining’ efforts collect personal information from the private sector, a move experts say could violate civil liberties if left unchecked.
Several appear to be patterned after Total Information Awareness, which critics said could have led to an Orwellian surveillance state in which citizens have little privacy.
‘I believe that Total Information Awareness is continuing under other names, and the (Defense Department) projects listed here might fit that bill,’ said Peter Swire, an Ohio State University law professor who served as the Clinton administration’s top privacy official.
Defense Department officials did not respond to a request for comment.
I suspected we’d hear something like this before too long. The government was bound to find this too tempting to just scrap the program entirely. And this is precisely why I don’t want to get “chipped” when the government starts pushing RFID chips on us–for our own security, of course.
Scientia est Potentia = Knowledge is Power