TIA (Terrorism Information Awareness)

TIA (Terrorism Information Awareness)

The Terrorism Information Awarness (TIA) system (formerly the Total Information Awareness program) is a new intelligence database system that culls and stores information, and creates risk assessments for a variety of security and intelligence uses. Using communications and financial surveillance, as well as general intelligence information, the TIA system is able sort information, identify patterns, and create data models. System developers predicted its use in security operations ranging from predicting terrorist attacks, to pre-flight screening of airline employees and passengers. The new program, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and managed by the Department of Homeland Security as part of the sweeping post-September 11 security reform, is controversial.

Critics fear that TIA facilitates the government's ability to create dossiers on average citizens. The Department of Defense pressed for the inclusion of medical, financial, and email records in the database. The collection of such personal information without cause or due process, raised questions about the system's implications on 4th Amendment search and seizure provisions.

TIA advocates, including U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, claim the system will promote a more thorough and rapid assessment of data, aiding international antiterrorism measures. Opponents of the program assert that the database stores personal information, such as credit reports and organizational affiliations, violating privacy. Many also doubt that use of the TIA system will be limited to terrorist detection, infrastructure protection or other similar measures.

The debate over TIA (then known as the Total Information Awareness program) reached the Senate floor in January 2003, where legislators voted 100–0 to block immediate implementation of the system. The Senate barred the use of the system unless mandated by Congress after a thorough review of its implications for constitutional rights and legal entitlements to privacy.

Upon further deliberation in February, Congress and the Senate negotiated a deal in which TIA could possibly be used outside the United States by military and civilian intelligence forces, specifically for the identification of terrorist threats and the prevention of terrorism. The Wyden Amendment, named after the sponsoring Oregon senator, prohibited the domestic use of TIA technology and created a formal oversight process to review the impact of TIA operations. The Department of Defense was directed provide a full assessment of the possible implication of TIA technology, or halt the program completely.

Although research continues on TIA functions, the future of the TIA program is pending as of May 2003. The Department of Defense, FBI, CIA, and Office of Homeland Security continue to advocate further development, and ultimately implementation, of TIA systems.


APIS (Advance Passenger Information System)
DOD (United States Department of Defense)
Homeland Security, United States Department

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