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2002-11-21

The Pentagon’s "Total Information Awareness": Pentagon Unveils Plans to Create the World’s Largest Surveillance Database to Track Your Phone Calls, Purchases, Internet Usage, Reading Material, Banking

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The Homeland Security Act also calls for the Information Awareness Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a massive database to monitor the public.

Last week, conservative New York Times columnist William Safire published a piece titled "You are a Suspect." It begins:

“If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

“Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.'

“To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.

"This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks."

Tape:

  • Pete Aldridge, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, recorded at a Pentagon press briefing on Nov. 20, 2002.

Guest:

  • Jim Dempsey, deputy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

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