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.
Such workers also could include letter carriers, meter readers and others who would have access to private homes.
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 American Civil Liberties Union, one of several critics of the plan, fears the proposal will encourage racial profiling and vigilantism, possibly leading to searches of private homes without a warrant.
“The administration apparently wants to implement a program that will turn local cable or gas or electrical technicians into government-sanctioned Peeping Toms,” Rachel King, an ACLU legislative counsel, said in a statement.
Looks like I need to renew my ACLU membership sooner than I thought. I guess old Orwell was only off by, oh, 20 years or so…