Snooping stalled

Tuesday, 4 February 2003, 1:02 PM EST

The U.S. House of Representatives and President Bush should concur with a unanimous Senate vote that struck a blow for the privacy rights of Americans.

The Senate blocked funding for a Pentagon program that would scan the Internet and commercial databases for electronic evidence of terrorist preparations. It's called Total Information Awareness, and it's headed by retired Vice Admiral John Poindexter, the Reagan administration national security adviser who was caught lying to Congress about the Iran-contra scandal.

This new program would let intelligence and law enforcement officials check -- without warrants -- travel and credit card records, Internet mail and banking transactions, new driver's license records and more. The admiral says government agents must be given greater latitude to hunt for hidden patterns of activity within the world's computer networks.

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