The MATRIX (Formerly TIA)

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the government has argued that it needs broad new powers to process, store and mine billions of minute details of electronic life in the United States. Although datamining has never proved a good method for catching terrorists, hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into new initiatives that promise to provide intelligence and law enforcement officials with instant access to information. This includes such things as Internet mail, phone records, credit card bills, banking transactions and travel documents--all without a search warrant. Historically, military and intelligence agencies have not been permitted to undertake surveillance projects aimed at its own citizens without extraordinary legal authorization.

The first initiative post-9/11 was the Total Information Awareness (TIA), run by Admiral John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame. Congress, after tremendous public pressure, slowed down the TIA project in May 2003 in order to investigate its affect on civil liberties. Poindexter tried to salvage TIA by changing its name from Total Information Awareness to Terrorism Information Awareness, but this didn't fool anyone. The House and Senate negotiators agreed to close down the data surveillance system in September 2003 and Poindexter was sent packing.

TIA may be dead, but the story isn't. Instead, funding has been diverted to other similar efforts such as The MATRIX or the "Multi-State Antiterrorism Information Exchange." In name, this is a state sponsored project, yet The MATRIX has received funding from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. The MATRIX supposedly contains more than 20 billion records from hundreds of sources.

Related Matter


U.S. Trends:
Data Collection Explosion
Data Warehouses
Government-Business Connection
Operation Shamrock
Data Accuracy
Fair Information Practices
The MATRIX (Formerly TIA)
Secure Flight (Formerly CAPPS II)
Infragard, TIPS and Cat Eyes
The USA Patriot Act

Canada and Outside the U.S.