Box 6.1 Past DARPA Projects That Have Raised Controversy
The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, later designated the Terrorism Information Awareness program, was a DARPA project initiated in 2002. TIA was aimed at detecting and averting terrorist threats through increased data sharing between federal agencies. Specifically, TIA deployed “data-mining and profiling technologies that could analyze commercial transactions and private communications” such as individuals’ “financial, educational, travel, … medical records … [and] criminal records.”1 According to the New York Times, the program operated on the premise that the “best way to catch terrorists is to allow federal agencies to share information about American citizens and aliens that is currently stored in separate databases.”2 This project raised concern among many privacy advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “This was a hugely unpopular program with a mission far outside what most Americans would consider acceptable in our democracy,” said Timothy Edgar, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union office in Washington, D.C.3 By 2003, continued privacy concerns raised by a number of groups encouraged Congress to act. First, Congress passed a law ordering a report detailing the project in Public Law 108-87.4 The requested report was to:
include a detailed explanation for each project and activity of the Total Information Awareness program—the actual and intended use of funds; the schedule for proposed research and development; and target dates for deployment. It must assess the likely efficacy of systems such as the Total Information Awareness program; the likely impact of the implementation of the Total Information Awareness program on privacy and civil liberties; and provide a list of the laws and regulations that govern the information to be collected by the Total Information Awareness program, and a description of any modifications required to use the information in the manner proposed.5
The congressionally ordered report framed as key concerns about the TIA project its possibly raising “significant and novel privacy and civil liberties policy issues,” questions as to “whether the safeguards against unauthorized access and use are sufficiently rigorous,” and the possibility that the “performance and promise of the tools might lead … [to] increasing the extent of the collection and use of information already obtained ….”6 Continued concern led Congress to pass legislation defunding the specific project in defense fiscal appropriations bill HR 2658.7,8 While the legislation effectively ended the specific TIA program, the legislation still “allowed [certain agencies] the use of ‘processing, analysis and collaboration tools’ … for foreign intelligence operations.”9 Even under these narrower conditions, concern over the possible uses of the technology remained.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation explained that “while EFF is pleased that these tools will not be developed specifically for domestic use, we are concerned that their development for foreign intelligence purposes continues to pose civil liberties risks—especially since it appears that they are to be developed under a classified ‘black budget’ with little, if any, public accountability.”10
A second program that raised public controversy was the Policy Analysis Market (PAM) (also known as Terrorism Futures Market, FutureMAP, or Electronic Market-Based Decision Support), a project initiated by DARPA in 2001 to apply de-