Total Information Awareness
- Question: Are these mere replacement programs for TIA?
- Question: Same with new name?
The Information Awareness Office is a branch of the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency whose mission is to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness." The IAO is headed by John Poindexter, former National Security Advisor in the Reagan Administration and chief architect of the Iran-Contra Affair.
The IAO's Illuminati-esque logo features the all-seeing eye of God from the Great Seal of the United States replaced with the all-seeing eye of the Information Awareness Office gazing at the Earth, and the Latin motto "scientia est potentia," meaning "knowledge is power".
On approximately December 19, 2002, the pyramid logo was removed without comment from the official IAO webpage, presumably in response to widespread criticism of its Masonic/Illuminati overtones. The biographies of senior staffers also disappeared. A mirror of the old page may be found here.
The IAO's stated mission is to gather as much information as possible about everyone in a centralized location for easy perusal by the United States government, including Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data. In essence, the goal of the IAO is to be able to recreate a life history of thoughts and movements for any individual on the planet on demand, which the Bush administration deems necessary to counter the threat of terrorism. Critics claim the very existence of the IAO completely disregards the concept of individual privacy and liberties and is far too invasive and prone to abuse.
The IAO was first mentioned in the media by New York Times reporter John Markoff on February 13, 2002, with few details available as to the agency's role or activities. In the following months, as more and more information emerged about the IAO's full scope, protest among civil libertarians grew over what they claim is the IAO's disturbingly Orwellian mission, especially within the larger framework of other invasive homeland security measures and policies implemented by the Bush administration. Also at issue is the integrity of Poindexter as head of the IAO, as he was convicted on five felony charges for lying to the Congress and deliberately altering and destroying documents pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair.
On January 16, 2003, US Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to halt activity of the IAO and the Total Information Awareness initiative pending a Congressional review of privacy issues involved. A similar measure introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would bar the IAO from operating within the United States unless specifically authorized to do so by Congress, and would shut the IAO down entirely 60 days after passage, unless either the Pentagon prepared a report assessing the impact of IAO activities on individual privacy and civil liberties, or the President certifies that the program's research is vital to national security interests. Any action in the US Congress to attempt to halt a specific internal Department of Defense project is highly unusual, underscoring the grave threat to civil liberties and privacy that many lawmakers perceive in the Information Awareness Office.
Public Protests Against the Information Awareness Office
There has been extensive criticism of the IAO in the media and on the Internet from both left-wing and right-wing civil libertarians who feel that the unprecedented systematic categorization and access to information that it will enable is a grave threat to individual liberties, and another step farther down the slippery slope to a totalitarian state.
On November 27, 2002, San Francisco Weekly columnist Matt Smith decided to illustrate the perils of information proliferation to John Poindexter personally by publishing a column containing Poindexter's home address and phone number, along with those of his next door neighbors. The information quickly propagated through the Internet and protestors created numerous web sites with this data, as well as with satellite photographs of Poindexter's house.
No government agency may deploy or implement any component of the Terrorism Information Awareness (formerly Total Information Awareness) program without Congressional notification and authorization, according to a provision adopted by the House of Representatives.
The "Limitation on Deployment of Terrorism Information Awareness Program" was included in the 2004 Defense Appropriations Act that was approved by the House on July 8. See the text of the provision (H.R. 2658 Sec. 8124) here.
In July 2003, the program is having a bit of an uphill battle getting started. On July 14, 2003, Wired News reports that "The Senate's $368 billion version of the 2004 defense appropriations bill, released from committee to the full Senate on Wednesday, contains a provision that would deny all funds to, and thus would effectively kill, the Terrorism Information Awareness program, formerly known as Total Information Awareness. TIA's projected budget for 2004 is $169 million."
This development generated quite a discussion on 'Slashdot'.
Per Conference Report on H.R. 2658, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004 (September 24, 2003, House Report 108-283):
- Sec. 8131. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated for the Terrorism Information Awareness Program ...
- the term "Terrorism Information Awareness Program" means the program known either as Terrorism Information Awareness or Total Information Awareness, or any successor program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or any other Department or element of the Federal Government, including the individual components of such Program developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Gov't Quietly Brings Back Total Information Awareness
Reuters has obtained a Congressional report that shows nine months after Congress shut down the controversial Pentagon computer-surveillance program called Total Information Awareness, the U.S. government continues to comb private records and databases to sniff out suspicious activity. Peter Swire, who served as the Clinton administration's top official said "I believe that Total Information Awareness is continuing under other names."—reported by Democracy Now!, June 3, 2004.
As part of the IAO's "Total Information Awareness" program, several new technologies are being researched.
- Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text, or EARS, has a stated goal of "developing speech-to-text (automatic transcription) technology whose output is substantially richer and much more accurate than currently possible." This program is focusing on broadcast and telephone human conversations in multiple languages, necessary for the computerized analysis of the massive amount of phone tapping the IAO now has the right to perform without a legal warrant.
- Futures Markets Applied to Prediction, or FutureMAP, intends to "concentrate on market-based techniques for avoiding surprise and predicting future events." It will analyze data from the world's economy in attempt to predict political instability, threats to national security, and in general every major event in the near future. The IAO's stated strategy for this division includes "the markets must also be sufficiently robust to withstand manipulation," possibly suggesting the intention of altering future events to further the goals of the United States. See prediction market for more detail on the general phenomenon and its relationship to propaganda efforts.
- Genisys is the name given to the database system which will be implemented as the center of information for the IAO. Currently used database systems designed in the 1980s are insufficient for the massive amount of data to be gathered.
- Genoa "provides the structured argumentation, decision-making and corporate memory to rapidly deal with and adjust to dynamic crisis management." In essence, this program is designed to make conclusions and decisions based on available information, incorporating human analysis, corporate history, and a structured set of thinking. This research project was finished in fiscal year 2002, and is being followed up by Genoa II, which effectively automates the collaboration between government departments.
- Human Identification at a Distance, or HumanID, "is to develop automated biometric identification technologies to detect, recognize and identify humans at great distances." This program intends to be able to implement a face and gait identification system effective up to 150 meters at all times by fiscal year 2004. An extreme proposed version of this is called cognotechnology and would rely on nanotechnology.
- Translingual Information Detection, Extraction and Summarization, or TIDES, is being developed to detect, translate, summarize, and extract information in speech or text in multiple languages. Demonstration of machine capabilities and integration into Total Information Awareness systems is expected in 2003.
- Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment, or WAE, is intended to develop automated technology capable of predicting terrorist attacks, identifying predictive indicators by examining individual and group behavior in broad environmental context. The WAE will also develop intervention strategies based on the motivation of specific terrorists.
- Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc. is the 'integrator' responsible for tying hardware, artificial intelligence, inputs, etc. together.
- "Proposed Projects Under the Information Awareness Office" The Memory Hole: "Projects That Were Accepted and Will Be Funded by IAO."
- Information Links Courtesy of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Literature and Movies Critical of Total Information Awareness
- The Transparent Society by David Brin.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel by George Orwell depicting a total information awareness society.
- "Minority Report," a story by Philip K. Dick about a society that arrests people for crimes they have yet to commit (made into a movie in 2002)
Related SourceWatch articles
- data mining
- domestic spying
- Government Information Awareness
- Guardian Threat Tracking System (Guardian)
- Information Awareness Office
- Intelligence Community (IC)
- Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange Program
- personal surveillance
- System to Assess Risk (STAR)
- The Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) Report Program
- VICTORY Act
- The Information Awareness Office's official homepage.
- Articles about TIA/IAO from Warblogging.com.
- Information about the disappearance of the IAO logo.
- Speech by John Poindexter providing an overview of the Information Awareness Office: "Remarks as prepared for delivery by Dr. John Poindexter, Director, Information Awareness Office of DARPA, at DARPATech 2002 Conference, Anaheim, Calif., August 2, 2002." Posted by Federation of American Scientists.
- Thomas C. Greene, "US gov's 'ultimate database' run by a felon," The Register (UK), November 14, 2002.
- Charles V. Peña, "Information Awareness Office Makes Us a Nation of Suspects," Cato Institute, November 22, 2002: Critical appraisal of the IAO.
- Adam Mayle and Alex Knott, "Outsourcing Big Brother. Office of Total Information Awareness Relies on Private Sector to Track Americans," Center for Public Integrity, December 17, 2002: Report: IAO "has hired at least eight private companies to work on the effort."
- Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "'Partial' Information Awareness," Cato Institute, January 9, 2003.
- Declan McCullagh, "Pentagon database plan hits snag on Hill," CNET.com, January 15, 2003.
- "Unfocused Data-Mining," The St. Petersburg Times, January 24, 2003.
- Op-Ed: "Pentagon Snoopers," The New York Times, January 25, 2003.
- Shane Harris, "Total Information Awareness official responds to criticism," GovExec.com, January 31, 2003.
- Dan Caterinicchia, "DOD forming TIA oversight boards," FCW.com, February 7, 2003.
- Adam Clymer, "Pentagon Forms 2 Panels To Allay Fears on Spying," New York Times, February 8, 2003: "Defense Department forms two new advisory committes in bid to curb fears about domestic spying by its Total Information Awareness anti-terrorism program and to keep Congress from closely supervising program; Newton N. Minow, newly appointed to head panel of outsiders, holds his group's scrutiny is not substitute for work by Congress; Under Sec Edward C. (Pete) Aldridge, Jr. says moves mean Congressional conferees can reduce scope of Sen Ron Wyden's provision that would bar deployment and limit research of project, which would search for terrorists by scanning data in Internet mail and in commercial and financial databases; says inside board, composed of various department officials, would make sure existing privacy laws are followed and set up protocols for transferring data to other agencies; Wyden cites need for provision."
- Adam Clymer, "Congress Agrees to Bar Pentagon From Terror Watch of Americans" (abstract), New York Times, February 12, 2003: "House and Senate negotiators agree that Pentagon's anti-terrorism project to monitor Internet e-mail and commercial databases cannot be used against Americans, and restrict further research on 'Total Information Awareness' plan without extensive consultation with Congress; Republican and Democratic House members agree with Senate fears about privacy, Rep John P. Murtha saying Pentagon has 'some crazy people over there'; key to breadth of opposition is role of project head John Poindexter, who was convicted of lying to Congress Iran-contra arms sales; agreement on Sen Ron Wyden's amendment is praised on right and left as safeguarding civil liberties; Sen Charles Grassley and others comment."
- Audrey Hudson, "'Supersnoop' scheme blocked pending review," The Washington Times, February 13, 2003.
- Andrew Orlowski, "Total Poindexter Awareness tech spooks - a Who's Who," The Register (UK), February 28, 2003.
- Noah Schachtma, "A Spy Machine of DARPA's Dreams," Wired News, May 20, 2003. Contains numerous links within / to other related articles.
- John Markoff, "Aftereffects: Electronic Surveillance; Experts Say Technology Is Widely Disseminated Inside and Outside Military" (abstract), New York Times, May 21, 2003: "Computer experts warn that Congressional efforts to rein in Pentagon's surveillance project against terrorism may be ineffective because new surveillance technology is being widely disseminated both inside and outside military, and other less visible federal offices are pursuing similar research."
- Steve Perry, "Total Information Awareness Revisited. You know about the name change. But what about the shadow sister agency?" City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.), May 22, 2003.
- Ian Hoffman, Sean Holstage and Josh Richman, "State monitored war protesters. Intelligence agency does not distinguish between terrorism and peace activism," Oakland Tribune, June 1, 2003.
- Ryan Singel, "Funding for TIA All But Dead," Wired News, June 14, 2003.
- Drew Clark, "House lawmakers seek to curtail anti-terrorism law," National Journal's Technology Daily, September 24, 2003.
- William New, "Data sharing deemed critical to tracking terrorist cash," National Journal's Technology Daily, September 24, 2003.
- Thomas C. Greene, "A back door to Poindexter's Orwellian dream," The Register (UK), September 24, 2003.
- Greta Wodele, "Congress funds Defense, kills Terrorism Information Awarenesss," National Journal's Technology Daily, September 25, 2003.
- William New, "Data-mining advisory group at Defense may continue work. Panel seeks to protect agencies from information sharing risks," National Journal's Technology Daily, September 30, 2003.
- Matthew French, "Researchers still defending terror program," FCW.com, September 30, 2003.
- Ashlee Vance, "Georgia runs from the MATRIX. The proles are safe but pederasts must fend for themselves," The Register (UK), October 22, 2003: "The state of Georgia has pulled out of the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored MATRIX information collection program, leaving data only on its felons and sexual offenders behind in the Orwellian database. ... The list of states willing to participate in the MATRIX project is dwindling. Kentucky, Oregon and South Carolina pulled out earlier this year. Georgia's exit leaves the Party with Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah as guinea pigs. ... The handy life-tracking database idea should sound familiar. DARPA tried to get some backing for its Total Information Awareness (TIA) program before being shut down by Congress. It seems, however, that was bit a mini-bump in the road. Along with TIA and MATRIX, we have NIMD (Novel Intelligence from Massive Data); CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System); HID (Human Identification at a Distance), ARM (Activity Recognition Monitoring); F.U.K.D (Free the United Kingdom From Drugs) and B.O.M.B.D (British Opposition to Metabolically Bisturbile Drugs); and G.E.F.A.F.W.I.S.P (Global Ensortium For A First World Iniative On Scientific Practise)." Georgia Statement.
- "Key Component of VICTORY Act Passed," Warblogging.com, November 26, 2003: "In fact, the FBI will now be able to obtain all the information about you necessary to create a complete profile of you within the Total Information Awareness system. TIA in its current form may be superficially dead but it could come back at any time. And, when it does, the FBI will have the legal basis to obtain any information it wants to fill out the Total Information Awareness database."
- K.A. Taipale, "Data mining and Domestic Security: Connecting the Dots to Make Sense of Data," Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy (web) 5 Columbia Sci. & Tech. L. Rev 2 (December 2003).
- Noah Schachtman, "The Bastard Children of Total Information Awareness," Wired News, February 2004: "Some analysts think bits of TIA still exist on the covert, 'black' side of the Pentagon's ledger. Here, with text straight out of government and corporate documents, are a few of the unclassified efforts. ... CAPPSII, MATRIX, mohoClassifier, NORA (Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness), Acumen (Adaptive Concept Understanding From Modeled Enterprise Networks), NIMD.
- Philip Carter, "TIA lives on to die another day," PhilCarter Blogspot, February 22, 2004.
- "Gov't Data Mining Program Proceeding Under Another Name," beSpacific.com, May 21, 2004: "According to documents obtained by the ACLU in response to FOIA requests, data mining and surveillance initiatives consistent with the Total Information Awareness program, whose work was suspended by Congress, continue under the auspices of the MATRIX program."
- Shane Harris, "TIA Lives On," National Journal, February 23, 2006.
- Nico Pitney, "National Journal: Total Information Awareness ‘Stopped In Name Only’," Think Progress, February 24, 2006.
- Matt Corley, "FBI Seeking To Create 6 Billion Record Database Similar To Total Information Awareness," Think Progress, June 13, 2007. re National Security Branch Analysis Center
- Kingsley Dennis, "Global Gridlock: How the US Military-Industrial Complex Seeks to Contain and Control the Earth and it’s Eco-System", Center for Research on Globalization, March 31, 2008.