A bill has been introduced in America to make US intelligence agencies more accountable in the way they gather and use personal information.
The senators were responding to calls for action on issues including random searches of banking details in the hunt for patterns that could uncover terrorist activity.
Senator Feingold said that the proposed bill would force intelligence services to report to Congress about searches designed to "discover predictive or anomalous patterns indicating criminal or terrorist activity - the types of data analysis that raise the most serious privacy concerns".
The ability to data mine massive amounts of personal information using computers has moved on much more quickly than the rights needed to protect individuals, according to a group of privacy campaigners lobbying Congress for the change.
Leslie Harris, head of the Centre for Democracy and Technology, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking it to update the Privacy Act and other related laws.
"Especially in the counterterrorism context, a major shift in data collection and use is taking place without a suitable privacy and due process framework," said Harris.
A congressional audit in 2004 uncovered 199 data-mining programmes being set up or used within Federal agencies.
Senator Leahy said that Congress was overdue in taking stock of the proliferation of these databases.
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