RealNews

DOJ Net Surveillance Under Fire

The Justice Department’s statements — and what it did not say — in a congressional inquiry on the use of broadened surveillance powers authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks is raising a red flag among civil liberties groups. A central concern is the lack of clarity regarding the scope of Internet surveillance powers granted in the controversial USA Patriot Act. In response to testimony last week by Attorney General John Ashcroft before the House Judiciary Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union published a memo criticizing the government’s attempts to apply the methodology for tracing phone calls to tracking Internet use. Timothy Edgar, an ACLU legislative counsel and the report’s author, argued that so-called “trap and trace” devices, traditionally used to capture telephone numbers but not the content of conversations, could potentially violate a subject’s privacy if it’s used to watch Web activity. On the Internet, investigators use “trap and trace” technology to monitor e-mail, Web surfing and other activity to search for clues about potentially illegal activity. Full Story

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