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




NSA spying on Americans, lawsuit claims

December 6, 1999
Web posted at: 1:01 p.m. EST (1801 GMT)

by Daniel Verton

Federal Computer Week

(IDG) -- The privacy watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a lawsuit in federal court that aims to force the National Security Agency to release sensitive documents thought to contain evidence of surveillance operations against U.S. citizens.

EPIC wants to obtain documents recently denied to Congress by NSA's General Counsel on the grounds of attorney/client privilege. NSA also has failed to reply to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by EPIC to obtain the documents.

The lawsuit centers on documents that are said to detail the operations of the so-called Echelon global surveillance network. Details surrounding Echelon came to light last year when the European Union launched a full-scale investigation into privacy abuses against European citizens by the NSA.

Online Privacy

EPIC director Marc Rotenberg said in a statement released to the press, "The charter of the National Security Agency does not authorize domestic intelligence-gathering. Yet we have reason to believe that the NSA is engaged in the indiscriminate acquisition and interception of domestic communications taking place over the Internet."

  Federal Computer Week home page
  Learn to delete files so that the NSA can't get to them
  The NSA is changing the hardware you buy
  NSA director calls for sweeping overhaul
  News Radio
  * Fusion audio primers
  * Computerworld Minute

A spokesperson for the agency said, "NSA operates in strict accordance with U.S. laws and regulations in protecting the privacy rights of U.S. persons. Its activities are conducted with the highest constitutional, legal and ethical standards."

Echelon, a Cold War-vintage global spy system, is believed to consist 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.

EPIC is planning a major study of the Echelon network to be published next year that looks at the operations of signals intelligence agencies around the world, such as the NSA.

"We expect that Congress will hold hearings on this early next year and we plan to pursue our case very aggressively," Rotenberg told FCW. "If the NSA is intercepting Internet communications of U.S. citizens -- and we believe they are -- then it is a critical question of Constitutional government to determine whether they are acting within the law or outside of it."

Privacy groups ask FTC to close e-mail loophole
December 6, 1999
Commerce chief issues privacy warning for Web firms
November 9, 1999
Internet pioneer urges transition to new Net protocol
October 27, 1999
FTC sued for records on privacy complaints
October 14, 1999
Congress says law is only part of better computer security
October 5, 1999
Expert disputes charge of Windows backdoor
September 13, 1999

NSA director calls for sweeping overhaul
European Union may investigate U.S. global spy computer network
Is Windows Wide Open to the NSA?
(PC World Online)
The NSA is changing the hardware you buy
(NetworkWorld Fusion)
Learn to delete files so that the NSA can't get to them
Why the government needs key recovery
Agencies scan biometrics for potential applications
Year 2000 World
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.