Total Information Awareness: Lessons From History

More from Capitol Hill Blue on what we can expect from Total Information Awareness:

When quizzed about TIA earlier, DARPA officials insist they have safeguards to prevent abuses but the record suggests otherwise.

“Given the military’s legacy of privacy abuses, such vague assurances are cold comfort,” says Gene Healy, senior editor of the CATO Institute in Washington.

“During World War I, concerns about German saboteurs led to unrestrained domestic spying by U.S. Army intelligence operatives,” says Healy. “Army spies were given free reign to gather information on potential subversives, and were often empowered to make arrests as special police officers. Occasionally, they carried false identification as employees of public utilities to allow them, as the chief intelligence officer for the Western Department put it, ‘to enter offices or residences of suspects gracefully, and thereby obtain data.'”

In her book Army Surveillance in America, historian Joan M. Jensen noted, “What began as a system to protect the government from enemy agents became a vast surveillance system to watch civilians who violated no law but who objected to wartime policies or to the war itself.”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
— George Santayana

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