ad info
   personal technology

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Efforts made to prevent privacy abuses against U.S. citizens

June 7, 1999
Web posted at: 11:53 a.m. EDT (1553 GMT)

by Daniel Verton

Federal Computer Week

   Message Board: Online privacy

   Sign up for the Computer Connection email service

   For more computing stories


(IDG) -- Congress has squared off with the National Security Agency over a top-secret U.S. global electronic surveillance program, requesting top intelligence officials to report on the legal standards used to prevent privacy abuses against U.S. citizens.

According to an amendment to the fiscal 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act proposed last month by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the director of Central Intelligence, the director of NSA and the attorney general must submit a report within 60 days of the bill becoming law that outlines the legal standards being employed to safeguard the privacy of American citizens against Project Echelon.

Echelon is NSA's Cold War-vintage global spying system, which consists of a worldwide network of clandestine listening posts capable of intercepting electronic communications such as e-mail, telephone conversations, faxes, satellite transmissions, microwave links and fiber-optic communications traffic. However, the European Union last year raised concerns that the system may be regularly violating the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

  Federal Computer Week home page
  Federal Computer Week's Y2K resource page
  Year 2000 World
 Reviews & in-depth info at's personal news page's products pages
  Questions about computers? Let's editors help you
  Subscribe to's free daily newsletters
  Search in 12 languages
 News Radio
 * Fusion audio primers
 * Computerworld Minute

However, NSA, the supersecret spy agency known best for its worldwide eavesdropping capabilities, for the first time in the history of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence refused to hand over documents on the Echelon program, claiming attorney/client privilege.

Congress is "concerned about the privacy rights of American citizens and whether or not there are constitutional safeguards being circumvented by the manner in which the intelligence agencies are intercepting and/or receiving international communications...from foreign nations that would otherwise be prohibited by...the limitations on the collection of domestic intelligence," Barr said. "This very straightforward amendment...will help guarantee the privacy rights of American citizens [and] will protect the oversight responsibilities of the Congress which are now under assault" by the intelligence community.

Calling NSA's argument of attorney/client privilege "unpersuasive and dubious," committee chairman Rep. Peter J. Goss (R-Fla.) said the ability of the intelligence community to deny access to documents on intelligence programs could "seriously hobble the legislative oversight process" provided for by the Constitution and would "result in the envelopment of the executive branch in a cloak of secrecy."

RSA tries Australian end-run around U.S. encryption laws
January 8, 1999
RSA wants you to crack this code
December 23, 1998
Advocates square off in U.S. encryption policy debate
May 24, 1999
U.S. Supreme Court takes up driver's license data privacy
May 21, 1999
Study: 94% of top 100 Web sites post privacy policies
May 14, 1999

European Union may investigate U.S. global spy computer network
Web docs show NSA forecast bloody Tet Offensive
Privacy watchdog group warns about dangers of security measures
Study: 94% of top 100 Web sites post privacy policies
Privacy advocate vows to 'ratchet up' Internet fight
CIOs fear added burden of medical privacy
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

National Security Agency
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.