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[Nettime-bold] Fw: *ICN - Privacy: Critics say Patriot Act puts privacy
Steve McAlexander on Mon, 29 Oct 2001 17:05:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Fw: *ICN - Privacy: Critics say Patriot Act puts privacy at risk

> Critics: Patriot Act puts privacy at risk
>   By Stefanie Olsen
>  Special to ZDNet News
>  October 26, 2001 3:36 PM PT
>   President Bush signed legislation Friday that expands the ability to tap
telephones and track Internet usage in the hunt for terrorists, new powers
that drew praise from law enforcement officials and concern from civil
> The bill, known as the USA Patriot Act, gives federal authorities much
wider latitude in monitoring Internet usage and expands the way such data is
shared among different agencies.
> "Today, we take an essential step in defeating terrorism while protecting
the constitutional rights of all Americans," Bush said during a signing
ceremony. The House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 357-66
on Wednesday, and the Senate on Thursday approved the measure 98-1.
> Attorney General John Ashcroft vowed Thursday to use the new powers to
track down suspected terrorists relentlessly.
>  "If you overstay your visas even by one day, we will arrest you. If you
violate a local law--we will hope that you will, and work to make sure that
you are put in jail and be kept in custody as long as possible," he said in
a speech to the nation's mayors about how the law would target suspected
> Civil libertarians say the measure was passed in haste following the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks. They are particularly concerned that the surveillance
powers give law enforcement too much leeway to collect private information
on people on the periphery of investigations.
> "The attorney general is making a full-court press on the Internet. They
want to do a lot of data mining and investigations on the Internet, and
because they are looking for a needle in the haystack, they are going to
conduct investigations that take them to the outer circle," said Jerry
Berman, executive director for the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT)
> "The trouble with the bill is that it's very sweeping and it can apply not
just to suspected terrorists but people and organizations that may be
engaged in lawful actions," Berman said.
> The new bill was enacted in response to terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon, which have sparked the largest criminal
investigation in U.S. history. The investigation immediately cast a
spotlight on government surveillance powers, as Ashcroft championed the need
for new "tools" to track down potential terrorists after the attacks. Part
of the new legislation includes the expansion of Internet eavesdropping
technology once known as Carnivore.
> But civil rights advocates have consistently cautioned against expanding
surveillance powers unnecessarily, arguing that there is little evidence
that tougher surveillance laws could have prevented the tragedy.
> In response to the new legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union
vowed Friday that it would work with the Bush administration and law
enforcement agencies to make sure civil liberties were not compromised as a
result of the new bill.
> "The passage of this broad legislation is by no means the end of the
story," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. "We
will now work with ACLU affiliates around the country to monitor its
> Gregory T. Nojeim, Associate Director of the ACLU's Washington Office,
added: "These new and unchecked powers could be used against American
citizens who are not under criminal investigation, immigrants who are here
within our borders legally and also against those whose First Amendment
activities are deemed to be threats to national security by the Attorney
> Specifically, the bill expands a "pen register" statute to include
electronic communications and Internet usage. The pen register previously
referred to law enforcement powers involving the tracing of telephone
numbers called by suspected criminals. By including electronic
communications, the statute now allows investigators to easily obtain
wiretaps for activity on the Internet, which can mean the collection of
information more private than IP addresses, which are roughly the Net's
equivalent of phone numbers.
> In addition, Internet service providers must make their services more
wiretap friendly, giving law enforcement the ability to capture pen register
information or allowing the installation of Carnivore technology.
> Critics say there is not enough clarity about what information is
collected through surveillance technology. Lawmakers maintain that Carnivore
doesn't include information from the subject line of an e-mail, but it may
collect data such as names and Web surfing habits. Another major concern is
that such investigations are kept secret.
> "We don't know the scope of what pen register information can be collected
in the context of e-mail," said Mike Godwin, policy fellow at CDT. "But what
we do know is that it ought to require more judicial review than it gets.
Information collected is going to be more private than just e-mail."
> One potential coup for civil rights advocates could be in a provision
introduced by House Majority Leader Dick Armey. The provision requires a
judge to oversee the Federal Bureau of Investigation's use of an e-mail
wiretap, ensuring some checks and balances over the use of Carnivore. Law
enforcement will be required to report back in 30 days to an authorizing
judge on information that was collected online during the investigation.
> "This would require the FBI to show what was collected, by whom, and who
had access to it," said Armey spokesman Richard Diamond. "That information
would be transferred under seal to the judge authorizing the use of
> While some provisions in the bill will expire in 2006, powers governing
Internet surveillance are not included in the "sunset clause."
> "We will be watching, and Congress will be watching," Diamond said. "And
in four years, when the DOJ asks for reauthorization of their powers,
Congress will make sure (that) if any of those new powers were
misused...they will be taken away."
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