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U.S. agencies defend gov't data-mining plans

Leaders of two much-criticized projects that privacy advocates fear will collect massive amounts of data on U.S. residents defended those projects before the U.S. Congress Tuesday, saying the projects will be much more limited in scope than opponents fear. James Loy, director of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) , and Anthony Tether, director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), countered concerns that the TSA’s proposed Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) nor DARPA’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) research project would house new volumes of data that could be later used to check up on U.S. citizens. Instead, CAPPS II will run an airline passenger’s name, address, phone number and birth date through a sophisticated data analysis process to determine if that passenger presented a terrorism risk, Loy said. And DARPA is simply providing other agencies such as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with the tools to mine data for important trends, Tether said, but the agency isn’t planning to collect data itself. Asked how DARPA would ensure that any information about U.S. residents caught in TIA’s net would be correct, Tether said that’s up to agencies like the FBI to decide. “At DARPA, we develop the tools,” he said. “We don’t collect any data. We’re not the people who collect data; we’re the people who supply the analytical tools to the people who collect the data.” Full Story

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