[ISN] Privacy Watchdog Group Warns About Dangers of Security Measures

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Nov 03 1998 - 20:01:48 PST

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    Privacy Watchdog Group Warns About Dangers of Security Measures
    BY HEATHER HARRELD (heatherat_private)
    The recommendations of a presidential commission for protecting the
    nation's critical computer systems -- many of which are being launched by
    various federal entities -- would expand government authority and lead to
    civil liberty violations, according to a report released today by a
    privacy think tank. 
    The report, authored by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, asserts
    that the expanded role of the Defense Department and the FBI required to
    ward off perceived information warfare threats to the nation's critical
    infrastructures would infringe upon various civil liberties, such as
    freedom of speech, privacy protections and the Freedom of Information Act. 
    Specifically, Wayne Madsen, senior fellow at EPIC and author of the
    report, noted that the National Security Agency and other intelligence
    agencies would have their roles expanded from collecting international
    intelligence data to focusing efforts on domestic computer security. 
    Traditionally, the NSA has been prohibited from playing a role in the
    protection of unclassified computer security data. But because
    infrastructure protection involves working closely with the private-sector
    owners and operators of infrastructure, such as telecommunications
    companies and banks, this role would be expanded. 
    The report from the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure
    Protection supported the use of key-recovery encryption, a technology
    mechanism strongly supported by the NSA that would allow law enforcement
    officials to descramble encrypted data with a court order or other
    It also suggests that the federal government create new classifications
    for government information and provide federal agencies with expanded
    latitude for classifying information, according to Madsen. 
    "The intelligence community...has had its sights set on restricting access
    to public information for years," Madsen said. "There's been a struggle
    between NSA and civilian agencies over who will be responsible for
    protecting unclassified information. NSA [in commission recommendations]
    will become the de facto information security czar." 
    But Jeffrey Hunker, director of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance
    Office, which was created by President Clinton to carry out many of the
    recommendations in the commission's report, said his office places First
    Amendment and civil liberty concerns foremost in its work. 
    "We are dealing with a new and evolving threat environment," Hunker said. 
    "Discussions about civil liberties need to recognize the fact that there
    are new threats that pose real risks to Americans at home...and their way
    of life." 
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