US govn. TIPS a nod to Big Brother

The U.S. government is again turning to technology to monitor suspicious activity in the name of fighting terrorism.

The government has unveiled more details of its Terrorist Information and Prevention System (TIPS), a plan to recruit volunteers across the country who will keep tabs on dubious or suspicious behavior. "The program will involve the millions of American workers who, in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity in public places," according to the TIPS Web site.

Volunteers would report the activity to law enforcement via the Internet or by telephone. The government also has set up a site where people can offer their services to Citizen Corps, a White House-backed community-based volunteer network that includes the TIPS program.

The TIPS Web site says "information received will be entered into the national database and referred electronically to a point of contact in each state as appropriate."

Barbara Comstock, director of public affairs for the department, said TIPS "is simply a reporting system" based on other programs in which people are encouraged to give details of suspicious activity in the course of doing their jobs. "None of the Operation TIPS materials published on the Web or elsewhere have made reference to entry or access to the homes of individuals; nor has it ever been the intention of the Department of Justice, or any other agency, to set up such a program," Comstock said in the statement.

News source: ZDNet

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