TIA Press Release

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Jeff Grove
ACM Public Policy Office
(202) 478-6312


USACM Recommends an Independent Review of the U.S. Government's Total Information Awareness Program

Washington, DC, January 23, 2003... USACM, the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, today sent a letter to Congress recommending a rigorous independent review of the U.S. Government's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program.

"As computer scientists and engineers we have significant doubts that the computer-based TIA program will achieve its stated goal of countering terrorism through prevention," said Dr. Barbara Simons, Co-chair of USACM. "Because of serious security, privacy, economic, and personal risks associated with the development of a vast database surveillance system, USACM recommends a rigorous independent review of these aspects of TIA. Such a review should include an examination of the technical feasibility and practical reality of the entire program." Dr. Simons said USACM would be pleased to assist in such a review.

The TIA program is being developed by the Department of Defense as part of an effort to counter terrorism. In its current form, the TIA program would involve gathering vast amounts of personal information from U.S. citizens to compile a database of highly sensitive information, including financial, medical, educational, telephone, and travel records.

USACM Co-Chair Dr. Eugene H. Spafford noted that databases like those proposed by TIA would provide new targets for exploitation and attack by malicious computer users, criminals, and terrorists. "It is unlikely that sufficiently secure databases of the required size and complexity, whether centralized or distributed, can be constructed and effectively employed in a secure environment, even with significant research advances. There are important steps the government can take now to improve current operational systems that enhance homeland security without creating major new risks to our information infrastructure," concluded Dr. Spafford.

A copy of USACM's letter to Congress regarding the TIA program can be found at:



ACM is a leading society of computer professionals in education, industry, and government. The USACM facilitates communication between computer professionals and policy-makers on issues of concern to the computing community. For more information, visit the USACM web site at www.acm.org/usacm.




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