Data mining project gets two oversight panels

Data mining project gets two oversight panels

Reacting to complaints by privacy advocates and Congress about the Total Information Awareness terrorist-tracking project, Defense Department undersecretary Edward C. 'Pete' Aldridge Jr. this afternoon said he will chair a TIA oversight board of senior DOD officials, starting late this month.

'There has been no reduction in the scope of TIA,' said Aldridge, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. The board will try to avert calls for congressional oversight, he said, adding that 'we are working with Congress on the amendment [to the fiscal 2003 continuing appropriations bill] that would require additional reporting' about the data mining technology. 'We think we can come to a satisfactory compromise.'

DOD also has named a seven-member board of prominent outside advisers to ensure that TIA, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project, observes constitutional and statutory limits on collecting data about individuals.

Aldridge said TIA's data mining 'is yet to be proven. It is still a technology program with no operational plans.' In fiscal 2003, $10 million was authorized for the program, and the fiscal 2004 budget proposal would give it $20 million. Some contracts have been awarded, he said, but he could not say what stage they have reached.

DARPA is developing three types of software for TIA: language translation, data search and pattern recognition, and collaboration and decision support tools. 'TIA does not plan to create a gigantic database' about U.S. citizens, a DOD statement said today.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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