Total Information Awareness (TIA)

Total Information Awareness (TIA) is the name of a massive U.S. data mining project focused on scanning travel, financial and other data from public and private sources with the goal of detecting and preventing transnational threats to national security.

Total Information Awareness (TIA) is the name of a massive U.S. data mining project focused on scanning travel, financial and other data from public and private sources with the goal of detecting and preventing transnational threats to national security. TIA has also been called Terrorism Information Awareness. The program was part of the Homeland Security Act and, after its creation in January 2003, was managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In September 2003, U.S. Congressional negotiators agreed to terminate the program and ceased funding. in 2006, however, news agencies reported that software developed for it had been shifted to other agencies, specifically the National Security Agency (NSA).

TIA initiatives included a massive counter-terrorism database and advanced methods for data collection, processing and analysis. At the time, technology capable of accomplishing some of the program's data mining goals had not yet been invented. For example, one component of the system was a technology that enabled unilingual English speakers to monitor information in other languages. To that end, DARPA began awarding contracts for the design and development of TIA system components in August, 2002.

A number of privacy rights organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), expressed concerns that the program would gather the personal information of private citizens indiscriminately and would not be held publicly accountable. While legislative negotiators in Congress (who terminated the project under DARPA) agreed, many of the programs developed under TIA are currently used to gather and analyze data at the NSA.

This was first published in August 2006

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