Groups Urge Congress to Halt 'Information Awareness' Plan

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A coalition of public interest groups sent a letter yesterday asking Congress to halt a program that would give the Federal government access to large private databases of consumers' personal information in an attempt to thwart terrorists.


The program, which would mine data with the goal of locating suspicious activity, is known as Total Information Awareness.


"The very workings of TIA would depend on access to massive amounts of personal information stored in electronic databases," the letter said. "By definition, the program is privacy intrusive."


Some examples of the data targeted were telephone records, bank records, medical records and educational and travel data.


The nonpartisan organizations behind the letter were The Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for National Security Studies, Eagle Forum, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Congress Foundation.


CDT said in a statement, "The groups urged senior Republicans and Democrats to determine what types of private data would be used and what evaluation has been done of the effectiveness of the proposed technique before allowing it to go forward.


The letter was sent to several members of Congress including Duncan Hunter (R- CA), chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, and committee member Ike Skelton, D-MO.


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