TIPS revamp to focus on truckdrivers, dock workers

| Tuesday, August 13, 2002

A Bush administration proposal for a network of anti-terrorism tipsters is being overhauled, due to complaints it would encourage Americans to spy on one another, AP reports.

The Justice Department plan has been modified to exclude as tipsters people from industries and government agencies that often have access to people's homes. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS) will focus instead on workers who operate on the highways, such as truckdrivers, and at the ports of entry, officials said.

The program was to have been launched this month. But on Aug. 9, officials said it will not be put into effect until Congress returns in September to allow time for consultation with lawmakers.

The original idea was to offer a hot line people could call if during the course of their workday they noticed something suspicious. But the U.S. Postal Service said "no thanks" and other industries also expressed reservations, saying they didn't want their workers looked at by customers as potential spies.

The Justice Department no longer is seeking the participation of the Postal Service or utility companies. Meanwhile, there's been no decision about who will operate the hot line, but a likely choice is the National White Collar Crime Center. The organization is a nonprofit corporation of law enforcement agencies and state and local prosecution offices.

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