Government Prying, the Good Kind

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest," according to the architect of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Given that sentiment, it's tempting to think Jefferson would have approved of a new Web-based repository intended to close what the site's developers describe as an ever-widening gap between citizens' ability to monitor the government and the government's ability to monitor its citizens.

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab unveiled the Government Information Awareness, or GIA, website Friday. Using applications developed at the Media Lab, GIA collects and collates information about government programs, plans and politicians from the general public and numerous online sources. Currently the database contains information on more than 3,000 public figures. The premise of GIA is that if the government has a right to know personal details about citizens, then citizens have a right to similar information about the government.

GIA was inspired by the federal government's Terrorist Information Awareness, or TIA, program. Government officials have said that TIA's sole purpose is to identify potential terrorists by comparing information in a broad range of databases that might point to patterns indicative of terrorist activity.

News source: Wired News

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