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07/07/2003 Archived Entry: "GIA: Government Information Awareness"

GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AWARENESS! It's too early to tell how useful this will be. But the computer genii at MIT, inspired by DARPA's eye-in-the-pyramid TIA (Total Information Awareness system, now euphemized to Terrorism Information Awareness system), have come up with GIA. The Government Information Awareness system is designed to let individuals monitor government agencies, elected officials and bureaucrats. Not only monitor, but input information about them, which then goes into a database/dossier. (Unlike us, they have a chance to respond to rumors, accusations, and allegations.) The idea seems to be to create the same kind of permanent record on them that they keep on us -- and to re-empower citizens, who have a right to know at least as much about government as it wishes to know about them. Click "more" below for a description, or just follow the above link to the system.

This info came via alert reader DB and was contained in a Wired magazine article that began with a quote from Thomas Jefferson I'd never seen before: "The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Wow. Can you imagine someone once said that about government?

From the GIA Web site:

The premise of GIA is that individual citizens have the right to know details about government, while government has the power to know details about citizens. Our goal is develop a technology which empowers citizens to form a sort of intelligence agency; gathering, sorting, and acting on information they gather about the government. Only by employing such technologies can we hope to have a government "by the people, and for the people."

The system presents itself to users as a Web site, but is actually a suite of information technologies that actively peruse data, accept contributions, and post alerts about government. The system will accommodate information of almost any type, allowing users to sort through volumes of information which would otherwise be unusable. More importantly, the system allows for people to submit any information, while retaining anonymity, but while also being identified as a consistent source.

For instance, say a scandal breaks, but the politician in question is later exonerated because of a specific fact. Users can poll the system to see if that fact was logged, and find out who contributed that fact, and when they did, without knowing their real name. They can then rank the credibility of that contributor, and ask the system to notify them if he or she makes further contributions in the future. Thus, they can learn whether they trust or mistrust a contributor, while the contributor still retains anonymity.

Posted by Claire @ 02:50 PM CST

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