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Colorado ACLU Echoes for Stop to Attorney General's Assault on Civil Liberties


Feb 12, 2003


In a recent announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union warned against the likely ineffectiveness of and danger to average Americans posed by the vast cyber-surveillance system known as Total Information Awareness (TIA).


"The Pentagon's plan for the most extensive data surveillance network in history will have real effects on real Americans," Katie Corrigan, ACLU Legislative Counsel told a nationwide teleconference with reporters and editors. "It will place millions of innocent Americans under government scrutiny in an epidemic of privacy invasion."


Representatives of a broad, right- and left-leaning coalition, which includes the ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Eagle Forum, and other organizations, were on hand to answer questions.


Much of the briefing focused on the practical dangers inherent in TIA for average Americans and how the system will erode the ability of communities across the country to maintain control over their personal information.


Coloradans are keenly aware of the dangers to the integrity of their personal information by the recent disclosure that the Denver Police Department kept intelligence files on individuals who exercised their First Amendment rights by participating in peaceful protests. Some of these people were labeled as "criminal extremists" by members of the Police Department who assigned them to arbitrary categories in the Police database.


The ACLU of Colorado Foundation released a document on January 22, 2003, from the Denver Police Spy Files showing that the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations collected information on individuals at a peaceful demonstration at Peterson Air Force Base in 1999 and shared it with the Denver Police Department. An ongoing class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Colorado challenges the Police Department's Spy Files and the practice of monitoring peaceful protesters and keeping files on the expressive activities of peaceful critics of government policies.


Total Information Awareness developers, led by former Reagan National Security Adviser and convicted felon John Poindexter, intends to create the infrastructure to allow the government to use "data-mining" technology to track and monitor, among many other things, innocent Americans' financial, health, travel and credit card records. The program has been billed as an anti-terrorism tool; however, many technical experts question its viability, and civil liberties and privacy advocates oppose the system for its potential disastrous effects on core freedoms.


Click here for additional background about the Spy Files controversy

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