FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today said that before a series of data-mining surveillance systems are implemented, Congress needs to ask and have answered tough questions about their effectiveness in preventing terrorism and impact on fundamental, long-standing civil liberties.
""If we rush into invasive cyber-surveillance without first assessing its potential harm to both freedom and security, we run the risk of irreparably harming our basic democracy,"" said Katie Corrigan, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. ""Congress needs to weigh the costs and benefits of these new technologies before they are ever used against Americans.""
At issue are three proposed data-mining systems: the Pentagon's ""Total Information Awareness"" cyber-surveillance system, the second generation of the Transportation Security Administration's ""Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System"" (CAPPS II) and the less well-known ""Trilogy"" system at the FBI.
The Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), of the House Government Reform Committee held a hearing this afternoon on the three proposals. The only witnesses were the systems' main supporters in the federal government: Admiral James L. Loy, Director of the TSA, Steve McGraw, the Assistant Director of the FBI's Office of Intelligence, and Anthony Tether, Director of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
For several months now, the ACLU and other privacy advocates have been calling on lawmakers to be conscientious in examining whether the guaranteed invasion of privacy and infringement on civil liberties posed by these systems is warranted in light of the questionable effectiveness of data-mining in the war against terrorism.
Specific questions that need to be asked and answered include:
""Until these and other tough questions are fully addressed by the proponents of data-mining, Congress and the American people need to keep a critical eye on these proposals,"" Corrigan said. ""Our interests are obviously not served by technology that does nothing to make us safer while making us less free.""