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New privacy threat index mimics terrorism alert levels

The Electronic Privacy Information Center today unveiled a new Privacy Threat Index to track what it sees as a growing menace to privacy from the government’s expanding surveillance efforts. EPIC officials at the RSA 2003 Security Conference said the Washington center’s index would ape the five-level color code established for the Homeland Security Advisory System by the Homeland Security Department. The rankings are green for low, blue for guarded, yellow for elevated, orange for high and red for severe. Based on developments during the past year, EPIC placed the current level at yellow. It will become increasingly important to compare surveillance activity over time, EPIC executive director Marc Rotenberg said. “We will use the Privacy Threat Index to assess developments in the United States and to compare activities in countries around the world,” he said. Jim Bidzos, chairman of the Bedford, Mass., company’s conferences, said yesterday that he had suggested the color-coded index. Bidzos is a member of the EPIC advisory board. The index is the result of concern over government’s new powers to investigate and eavesdrop on citizens since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rotenberg said. Full Story

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