DARPA trying to soothe TIA fears

The director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency went before Congress May 6 to clear up misconceptions about how DARPA's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program works.

TIA takes a hypothesis of an attack scenario, creates a pattern of behavior and then checks that pattern against databases, DARPA Director Tony Tether said at a hearing of the House Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

While the system would focus on information collected from government intelligence agencies, Tether said DARPA also is researching what other information might aid in counterterrorism efforts, such as transportation information and transactions.

The system would not merge separate government and private databases, and sensitive intelligence information would stay with the agency that collected it. Agencies would still be able to collaborate without compromising their sources and methods of information gathering, Tether said.

"We are developing a technology that will allow the agencies to easily collaborate with each other," he told lawmakers. "We don't want to get rid of the stovepipes, and I don't think anyone really wants to, because there is a role for the cultures."

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