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Catfish and Cod
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
That's not the point, guys.
(Link path: The Corner, Wired Magazine)

The Corner, inexplicably, defends Total Information Awareness:

According to Wired magazine, John Poindexter’s Terrorism Information Awareness program – formerly the Total Information Awareness program – appears dead, killed by a Senate committee... Critics on the left and right have called TIA an attempt to impose Big Brother on Americans. The program would use advanced data-mining tools and a mammoth database to find patterns of terrorist activities in electronic data trails left behind by everyday life.

The proposed TIA program was never as much of a threat to civil liberties as its critics suggested, and the potential merits were considerable. Most of the critics never understood that the technology is fairly straightforward and it’s easy to prevent against abuse...

Whether TIA itself was a threat as this Administration conceived it is not the point at all. TIA represented a completely new government power -- panopticon data gathering -- that no one believed was truly necessary for the purposes for which it was conceived. Perhaps TIA is easily muzzled. I'm somewhat of a skeptic on that. But one day, we may have an Administration which removes the muzzle, or forces it off, or talks it off in response to some new threat to America. And then where will we be?

The real threat is the meme that TIA represented. The idea that the government can use public computers and data as spy tools in domestic environments, collect whatever data it wants on you, and feel free to collate it and search it at their pleasure, is dangerous. Congress rose up in a broad, bipartisan manner to strangle TIA in its cradle. Whenever Congress acts in a united manner, you know they have a very good reason.