|Scientists say that the much-controversial 'Total Information Awareness program' was shelved by Congress because the lawmakers and the public misjudged that the level of threat to privacy.|
The Defense Advanced Research and Development Agency (DARPA), which implemented the project was caught in a 'perfect storm' of public opinion according to David Jensen, Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Brian Sharkey, a former deputy director of DARPA defends the online political betting project and says, 'We are not searching credit card histories or library records or gun ownership records or building files or dossiers on any U.S. citizens, or developing a 'Big Brother' system to invade the privacy of anyone'. Jensen and Sharkey belong to research contractor group, whose projects were axed under a provision in the defense appropriations bill passed by Congress few days ago.
Total Information Awareness (TIA) project, which created lot of controversy, was renamed TIA or Terrorism Information Awareness project and was run by former national security adviser, retired Adm. John Poindexter, a man was convicted of lying to Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal and subsequently pardoned. Poindexter resigned in August this year, after much public outrage over plans for an Internet-based betting market aiming to predict future terrorist events.
TIA's plan to analyze patterns from the database and catch potential terrorists or detect terrorist activity did not take off as expected. Critics argued that, there was a high degree of risk to privacy from looking for information patterns from combining data from commercial databases.