FBI may widely monitor computer systems: Crtiics warn that it's the computerized equivalent to door-to-door searches

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FBI may widely monitor computer systems
By CNET News.com Staff
July 28, 1999, 12:00 p.m. PT

Update: The Clinton administration has drafted a plan to create two broad, FBI-controlled computer monitoring systems designed to protect the nation's key data networks from interlopers.

The proposal calls for software monitoring of nonmilitary government systems and networks used in the banking, telecommunications, and transportation industries.

The purported goal is to prevent disruption of government and economic activities by foreign interests or terrorists. But critics say the sweeping plan could lead to a surveillance infrastructure with grave potential for misuse.

The stakes are obviously high, as the scope and volume of daily activities conducted over computer networks is mounting. On the one hand, security breakdowns have the potential to disrupt countless U.S. citizens. On the other, many Americans are fearful of privacy violations and heavy-handed government intrusion in an era when technology is advancing faster than laws and ethical norms are being established.

Drafted by officials of the National Security Council, the proposal envisions "thousands" of software programs looking for signs of illegal break-ins and other illicit use. It calls for creating something called the Federal Intrusion Detection Network (Fidnet), which would deposit its data findings with an interagency task force housed by the FBI.

The plan would be put in place by 2003.

"Our concern about an organized cyberattack has escalated dramatically," Jeffrey Hunker, the National Security Council's director of information protection, told the New York Times, which first reported the plan. "We do know of a number of hostile foreign governments that are developing sophisticated and well-organized offensive cyberattack capabilities, and we have good reason to believe that terrorists may be developing similar capabilities."

But some critics are warning that the proposal potentially could threaten the civil liberties of Internet users. James X. Dempsey, a lawyer with the libertarian Center for Democracy and Technology, said that although the report recognizes civil liberties implications, the federal government should allow companies and government bodies to plug security holes in their own computer systems instead of deploying a monitoring network.

Dempsey warned that excessive federal monitoring would cause a backlash among Internet users. "It's the computerized equivalent to door-to-door searches," he said. "And we have always resisted the monitoring of innocent behavior to catch the few bad guys."

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

-- flb (fben4077@yahoo.com), July 28, 1999


The plan would be put in place by 2003? Then there will be a 2003? Interesting if overly optimistic.

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWAyne@aol.com), July 28, 1999.

I do not believe the FBI will do it.

Andy Ray

-- Andy Boy (andyboy666@hotmale.com), July 28, 1999.

The FBI couldn't even keep their own sites from being hacked, several times since this spring. Now, they're going to watch the critical systems in this country? This should be good for quite a few laughs... <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), July 28, 1999.

My fear is that this will somehow end up being farmed-out to the NSA, either by direct involvement or in an advisory role. They'll treat it in a manner which is their mindset; "Us versus Them", and we'll end up in the path of an electronic vacuum cleaner more powerful than anything ever deployed aginst the Soviet Uniion.

If this mess sees the light of day, we'll end up living more under a microscope than any citizenry before in this planet's history. Some folks would say that the Gestapo and the KGB were lightweights at monitoring (and controlling) their citizenry, compared to what we will certainly face if this plan goes through.

Call your Senators and Representatives. Make it plain that this is an attack on the American people's freedom. As surely as if the federal government had announced a plan to require every citizen to keep a diary of all their actions, travels and transactions. With that diary subject to government review at anytime and the owner of each diary subject to criminal prosecution for any actions they described.

This plan would make Lenin, Stalin, Berea, Hitler and Himmler jealous. Y2K's possibilities are bad enough, we don't need this kind of crap in our futures as a reward for surviving.

It's enough to make one really want to see a collapse-level event occur, just to insure that shit like this can't be done by whatever form of government survives.


-- Wildweasel (vtmldm@epix.net), July 29, 1999.

With all respect, this thread is already old news. Senator Dodd got his first notice of this in the New York Times. He wants a full briefing in a week. Legal review have to take place. Details at

Notes on July 29, 1999 Senate Y2k Hearing

-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), July 29, 1999.

Ummm, legal REVIEWS have to take place.

('Don't know how to get rid of the cute turquoise. Sheesh.)

I'm gone from this thread. I like plain old "courier new" in black and white.


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), July 29, 1999.

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