Monday, January 23, 2006

snooping on citizens, a failure of oversight

Sabrina I. Pacifici continues to provide excellent pointers to web stuff related to government snooping on citizens. Here are a couple of examples:
Questions About NSA Surveillance From the Not So Distant Past

Statement for the Record of NSA Director Lt Gen Michael V. Hayden, USAF, House Permanet Select Committee on Intelligence, 12 April 2000:

  • "In performing our mission, NSA constantly deals with information that must remain confidential so that we can continue to collect foreign intelligence information on various subjects that are of vital interest to the nation. Intelligence functions are of necessity conducted in secret, yet the principles of our democracy require an informed populace and public debate on national issues. The American people must be confident that the power they have entrusted to us is not being, and will not be, abused. These opposing principles--secrecy on one hand, and open debate on the other--can be reconciled successfully through rigorous oversight. The current oversight framework reconciles these principles. It serves as a needed check on what otherwise has the potential to be an intrusive system. The regulatory and oversight structure, in place now for nearly a quarter of a century, has ensured that the imperatives of national security are balanced with democratic values. Mr. Chairman, this is a complex and difficult issue, one that involves an intricate mix of technical and legal nuance. In the end, however, the concerns expressed about NSA’s capabilities strike at very basic desires on the part of our citizens to be secure in their homes, in their persons, and in their communications. My appearance here today is as the Director of NSA. But I’m also here as a citizen who believes that the careful and continuing oversight of NSA -- at many levels, internal and external -- represents a commitment to striking a balance between the government's need for information against the privacy rights of U.S. persons that my fellow citizens and their elected representatives can endorse. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, and all our citizens, that I consider the maintenance of that balance one of my highest priorities, as do the other men and women of NSA." [emphasis added]

  • See also this related PowerPoint presentationprovided as documention during the hearing referenced above. [links via cryptome]

  • Related postings on domestic surveillance

  • Commentary on Government Search Engine Data Collection Highlights Privacy Issues

    Commentary related to postings this past week, Google Fights DOJ Order to Produce Records of Database Searches and MSN Blog Post Explains Search Data Provided to DOJ, focuses on the privacy issues that dominate this probe, rather than the government's contention that the effort revolves around protecting children who use the Internet.

    See the following articles and news that widen the scope of the discussion and provide additional relevant facts:

  • Washington Post (reg. req'd), Forgot What You Searched For? Google Didn't: "..the request -- and Google's refusal to fork over its search data -- is putting a helpful public spotlight on the vast amount of personal information being stored, parsed and who knows what else by the Web services we increasingly rely on to manage our lives."

  • CBS Internet Privacy Out Of Our Hands

  • Newsweek: The government is demanding millions of your queries. AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have coughed up. Google is resisting: "Though the government intends to use these data specifically for its COPA-related test, it's possible that the information could lead to further investigations and, perhaps, subpoenas to find out who was doing the searching."

  • NPR: Google Fights Request to Turn Over Search Records

  • Google subpoena roils the Web - US effort raises privacy issues

  • TechWeb: Search Engines' Trustworthiness Shaken By Government Data Gathering

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