From the May 2005 Idaho Observer:
The return of TIA
WASHINGTON, D.C.—At a meeting among security industry officials April 27, 2005, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff proposed the creation of a non-profit group in the private sector charged with collecting information on private citizens, identifying suspicious activities and forwarding the information to his department.
Chertoff’s comments were reportedly relayed to the outside world by a meeting attendee who took exception to the course the discussion took. According to Siobahn Gorman of the National Journal, the attendee claims Chertoff told the group, "Maybe we can create a nonprofit and track people’s activities, and an algorithm could red-flag individuals. Then, the nonprofit could give us the names."
It appears that the White House intends to breathe new life into the Total Information Awareness project, a plan to collect and analyze the mountains of personal data generated by millions of individuals to identify potential terrorists. The program was allegedly scrapped in 2002 due to public opposition and technological inadequacy.
"Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America organized the gathering of about 50 security-industry executives from companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, and Verizon. Reached by phone at the meeting, he characterized the event as ‘an organizational meeting to discuss how the [information-technology] industry can work more effectively with each other’ and with the Homeland Security Department," Gorman reported.
Chertoff also suggested that the information industry develop a group "to collect proprietary information about cyber—and other infrastructure—security breaches from companies; scrub it of identifying information; aggregate it; and pass it along to the department," wrote Gorman.
It was disclosed that the financial services industry is already working with the department in this cooperative manner.
Attempting to minimize the huge implications of his boss’ comments, Homeland Security Press Secretary Roehrkasse stated, "The secretary was responding to a hypothetical question with a hypothetical answer. He did not offer specific programmatic content or discuss any specific proposed approach. Rather, he was discussing, in general terms, the importance of this issue of balancing security and privacy."
Gorman mentioned that, because the meeting was closed to the press, Miller would not discuss Chertoff’s comments.
"One meeting participant said that Chertoff told the group that having a nonprofit collect names rather than the government ‘would alleviate some of the concerns people have,’" Gorman quoted the participant as stating.
"This is what made me sort of shift in my seat. It sounds like investigating every person for no reason," the individual observed. He appeared particularly concerned that an unknown formula created by this new group, without any lawful or statutory oversight, would determine what constitutes "red flags." The return of TIADHS chief supports creation of non-profit groups charged with collecting info on their neighbors and reporting "suspicious activities" to DHS
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