I recently stumbled across this: http://www.darpa.mil/iao/TIASystems.htm As one might expect, this prompted harsh criticism! http://www.acm.org/usacm/Letters/tia_final.html http://news.com.com/2100-1023-981945.html http://news.com.com/2100-1023-981753.html This is a recent example of the pecular American belief that the government is supposed to go looking for criminals, crooks, and terrorists... but it can't look at me! Why do Americans think this way? Do other nations' populaces act similarly? Interestingly, the TIA would not decrease privacy; it would merely organize vast quantities of information. Still fears arise, such as in the report from the USACM: "Because of serious security, privacy, economic, and personal risks associated with the development of a vast database surveillance system..." But the only thing the TIA would do is provide the organization required for data-mining. If a person targetting you is competent enough to hack into a compartmented Department of Defense databse, surely they would be competent enough to gather the information directly. It's difficult for me to see any substantiation for privacy concerns. Another fear raised by the USACM: "A single individual who has a personal or political vendetta, or who has been compromised by blackmail or greed, could do great harm. Yet, tens of thousands of systems administrators, domestic law enforcement staff, and intelligence personnel will be able to access the data; the security of the data will depend on the trustworthiness of every one of them. " and similarly: "Because TIA would combine some types of automated data-mining with statistical analysis, there would be a significant personal cost for many Americans. Any type of statistical analysis inevitably results in some number of false positives - in this case incorrectly labeling someone as a potential terrorist. As the entire population would be subjected to TIA surveillance, even a small percentage of false positives would result in a large number of law-abiding Americans being mistakenly labeled." Is there any factual backing for such cynicism of the U.S. government (in this respect, I mean, not in general )? Intelligence agencies are favorite sources of villany in Hollywood, but when's the last time you've actually heard from a reputable news outlet that an intelligence agency was acting irresponsibly in real life? When you really think about it, it isn't realistic to think that people are going to get erased from a bad database entry. And just how small do people think these agencies are? There are tens of thousands of people now with access to more damaging secrets than your credit card number, but somehow pubilc security is maintained. And realistically, just how much do we care that we're being watched? Be honest, how many of you use your local supermarket's bonus savings card, or a gas station's credit card? How many of you have your phone number listed in the white pages and have all cookies enabled in your web browser? We're "supposed" to care greatly about privacy, but is it really appropriate to be so pedantic about it? What are your thoughts!