Senate limits Pentagon 'snooping' plan

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to slap restrictions on a controversial Pentagon data-mining program that critics say would amount to a domestic spying apparatus.

The vote represents an unusual triumph of privacy concerns over the Bush administration's arguments that the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program would be useful for national security. If fully implemented, TIA would link databases from sources such as credit card companies, medical insurers and motor vehicle agencies in hopes of snaring terrorists.

Final passage of the moratorium is not certain, however. Because the House of Representatives' version of the omnibus appropriations bill does not include any limits on TIA, a conference committee will have the final say.

"There's the potential for some minor changes," a representative for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the amendment's author, said Thursday.

Privacy worries about the Pentagon system, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), came to a head this week after the FBI indicated it wanted to use TIA domestically against U.S. citizens. In a letter to Grassley, Defense Department Inspector General Joseph Schmitz said the FBI is considering "possible experimentation with TIA technology in the future."

News source: News.com

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