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Privacy: Total Information Awareness Programs and Related Information Access, Collection, and Protection Laws

Privacy: Total Information Awareness Programs and Related Information Access, Collection, and Protection Laws

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Member Since-29 Dec 2015

The government's awareness of inadequacies in its information gathering techniques, information technology, and information holdings increased after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Many federal agencies are working to address issues that could have an impact on the balance between the government's information needs and the privacy expectations of individuals. This report will discuss the Total Information Awareness programs (TIA) currently underway at the Department of Defense (DOD). These technologies could be used by DOD or other agencies to perform prototype research and develop information gathering and analysis capabilities. The report will discuss the current laws and safeguards that protect personal information, as well as the provisions that allow access to and dissemination of information for law enforcement and intelligence purposes. It also discusses the legal process required for officials seeking access to this information. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing the TIA program. It is an experimental prototype system that incorporates three types of technology: machine translation of languages, data search, and pattern recognition, advanced collaborative, and decision support. DARPA "aspires" to develop tools that allow analysts to data-mine an infinitely expandable universe database to "analyze, detect, classify, and identify foreign terrorists – and decipher them – and enable the U.S. to take timely action to defeat terrorist acts." . . (iii), provides targeted warnings within one hour of a trigger event or after an evidence threshold has been passed; [and](iii] can automatically cue analysts based upon partial pattern matches, analytical reasoning, and information-sharing. . . "DARPA's five-year research project to integrate information technologies into a prototype for intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement purposes aims to leverage R&D efforts that have been ongoing for many years in DARPA as well as private sector data mine technology. 

DARPA envisions a database of "unprecedented scale" that can be distributed and updated continuously. It will also be able to access transactional and biometric information from extensive databases drawn from the private and public sectors. Transactional data could include financial data (e.g. banks, credit cards, and money transmitters. Casinos and brokerage firms.), educational, travel (e.g. airlines, rail, rental cars), medical, veterinary. Transportation, housing, critical resource data, and communications (e.g. cell, landline, and Internet). The database could contain biometric data such as the face, fingerprints, and gait data. The TIA system could access databases to find connections between "passports, visas, work permits; driver's license; credit card; airline tickets and rental cars; gun sales; chemical purchases - as well as events such arrests or suspicious activities ." 

The TIA program's key component is the use of data mining technologies to sift through transactions and data to identify patterns and to track terrorists. It is believed that terrorist organizations will plan and execute attacks on the United States if their members engage in transactions. They will also leave signatures in this space. 


Legal issues: Government access to information about individuals in multiple databases (public and private) raises many legal and policy questions. How much should the government have the right to collect and mine information about individuals to support the war on terrorism? Should the government have unrestricted access? Should the government be allowed to access information without restrictions? The current law in this area can be used to help resolve these issues. This report will discuss current laws and safeguards that protect personal information. It will also describe the legal process required for officials seeking access to data. Finally, it will detail the current provisions that allow access and dissemination to information for law enforcement or intelligence-gathering purposes. Below is a list of information access, collection, and disclosure laws and regulations. 

Information. There are generally no restrictions on the federal government's access to public information (e.g. real property records, mortgages, liens, etc.). Sometimes, a statute will authorize access to such data. USA PATRIOT Act for example, which transformed the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, (FinCEN), from an administratively established bureau to one that is legally established, stated that it would provide government-wide access, both to records kept by other government offices and private, publicly-held information. Other government agencies also have used computer software products to access a variety of personal information. ChoicePoint Inc is a provider of credential verification and identification services. The FBI is said to have purchased personal information from them for data analysis. 

As we have discussed, the federal government wants access to public and private databases to create a central database that can detect and deter terrorist threats and attacks. This section describes the existing legal safeguards to protect personal information. This section only covers federal laws. State laws are beyond its reach. The United States does not have an omnibus statute, or constitutional provision, that guarantees the privacy of personal data. Instead, a variety of laws regulate the information that is deemed important enough to warrant some protection. The U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, regulations, and state laws all govern the collection, use, and disclosure of information. While the Constitution does provide some privacy protections, it does not specifically protect information privacy. The Constitution's privacy protections only protect individuals from government intrusions. They are inapplicable unless the "state has taken action". Its guarantees do not apply to private-sector abuses but government intrusions. Fourth Amendment search and seizure provisions protect privacy by requiring warrants before the government can invade an individual's inner space or requiring warrantless invasions to be reasonable. This amendment protects individuals' privacy from certain types of government intrusion. This language was interpreted by the Supreme Court as imposing a warrant requirement for all searches and seizures predicated on governmental authority. Accordingly, violations of this standard can result in the suppression of any criminal proceeding involving any material or information derived from them. There are exceptions to this warrant requirement that the Court also recognizes. Fourth Amendment rights are not available to individuals regarding information held by third parties. 


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