Infragard, TIPS and Cat Eyes

The U.S. government, realizing the benefits of enlisting businesses to aid in distributed-mass surveillance of its citizens, has recently been institutionalizing this practice with programs like Infragard. Other programs, like TIPS and Cat Eyes, recruit individuals rather than businesses to further extend the "eyes and ears" of the government.

Infragard: Infragard was created as a means for businesses to help stop cybercrime, but has broadened its mission to cover all kinds of threats to the U.S. government. The volunteer program has over 10,000 members organized in 79 local chapters and the names of participating companies are kept secret. Members must undergo a security check and obtain clearance from the FBI before joining. Infragard, some say, has become a giant list of corporate tipsters who, among other things, monitor computer networks to alert the government of potential terrorist activities. The Infragard mission statement: "It is our goal to improve and extend information sharing between private industry and the government, particularly the FBI, when it comes to critical national infrastructures."

TIPS: In 2002, the Department of Justice announced the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS). It was billed as a "national system for concerned workers to report suspicious activity." The proposal would have recruited one million informants in just 10 cities for the pilot program alone. TIPS was ultimately shut down, but the drive lives on in programs like Highway Watch and Cat Eyes.

Cat Eyes: Cat Eyes or "Community Anti-Terrorism Training Institute" is a neighborhood watch program that trains its members to recognize potential terrorist threats and report incidents to the local police. The program's motto is "watching America with pride not prejudice" and mission is to "train the average citizen on how to recognize terrorist acts before they can occur."

Related Matter

Introduction

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
CALEA

Canada and Outside the U.S.