[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[infowar.de] USA: massiver Anstieg der Überwachung durch Patriot Act
Der nach dem 11. September in den USA verabschiedete Patriot Act scheint
zu einer wahren Flut von Abhörmaßnahmen geführt zu haben. Die Zahl der
Abhörverfügungen, mit denen die Telefon- und Internet-Unternehmen zur
Kooperation gebracht werden, soll sich derzeit von Monat zu Monat
verdoppeln. Genaue Zahlen nennt der Bericht bei Newhouse allerdings
nicht, denn diese werden nicht veröffentlicht. Die Angaben stützen sich
vielmehr auf Informationen und Einschätzungen der betroffenen Firmen.
Die Maßnahmen sind dabei nicht unbedingt als zielgenau beschrieben.
Typisch sei es beispielsweise, dass ein Mitschnitt aller
Mobilfunkgespräche verlangt werde, die innerhalb eines bestimmten
Zeitraums in einer Kleinstadt oder innerhalb eines Stadtviertels geführt
werden. Der Hinweis auf die Gefahr des Terrorismus genüge, um solche
Maßnahmen zu rechtfertigen.
In the Name of Homeland Security, Telecom Firms Are Deluged With
By MILES BENSON
c.2002 Newhouse News Service
WASHINGTON -- Operating under new powers to combat terrorism, law
enforcement agencies are making unprecedented demands on the
telecommunications industry to provide information on subscribers,
company attorneys say.
These companies and Internet service providers face an escalating
barrage of subpoenas for subscriber lists, personal credit reports,
financial information, routing patterns that reveal individual computer
use, even customer photographs.
Behind the rising pressure for the fullest use of new technology and
surveillance is homeland security. As police and intelligence agencies
seek to deter future terrorist threats, the government is testing the
limits of the expanded authority Congress provided when it passed the
Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support in October.
"The amount of subpoenas that carriers receive today is roughly doubling
every month -- we're talking about hundreds of thousands of subpoenas
for customer records -- stuff that used to require a judge's approval,"
said Albert Gidari, a Seattle-based expert in privacy and security law
who represents numerous technology companies.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters of Yahoo, an Internet search engine
used by millions, now has a voicemail prompt that refers law enforcement
authorities to a special telephone number to which they can fax criminal
"Everything is an emergency now," Gidari said, though he believes "a lot
of it is just fishing."
Gidari's clients include AT&T Wireless, AOL, the Cellular
Telecommunications and Internet Association, Cricket Communications,
Nextel, VoiceStream, Cingular Wireless, Rural Cellular Corp., Connexion
by Boeing, Terabeam and Infospace.
At the FBI, spokesman Bill Carter referred all inquires about the volume
of Patriot Act subpoenas to the Justice Department. At the Justice
Department, spokesman Bryan Sierra said it might take "a long time" to
determine how many subpoenas have been issued, and that it may not be
possible to make the information public.
But clearly the heat is on.
"It's not just volume but the scope of the subpoenas we are seeing,
where instead of a rifle shot it's more of a shotgun approach," said
Michael Altschul, legal counsel for the Cellular Telecommunications &
Altschul said carriers are struggling "as good citizens" to comply with
complex and comprehensive surveillance demands that may sometimes
"require adding three shifts around the clock." The subpoenas are
beginning to impose a financial burden on companies, Altschul said.
Gidari agreed, saying that companies "should be compensated for
reasonable costs" and immunized from lawsuits claiming privacy rights
were violated, and that new federal regulations should be drafted to
spell out the rights and obligations of service providers.
Edward Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry
Association, said the industry is in "uncharted legal waters" -- caught
between customer expectations of privacy and government demands for
information. "Either way we might appear to be breaking some kind of
Particularly troublesome, Black said, is when law enforcement
authorities move swiftly and "short-circuit" regular legal procedures.
"I think we must be careful not to create a process whereby using a
private company somehow empowers the government to do things they cannot
legally do under the new laws," Black said.
"In many respects authorities are doing what most Americans want them to
be doing," said Stewart Baker, law enforcement and national security
specialist at Steptoe and Johnson, a Washington law firm. "In the long
run, though, it does mean there's an awful lot of information about
people in law enforcement files, not because the police are bad or
corrupt, but because an investigation has to track down a lot of leads.
"What happens to that information four or five years from now? The FBI
doesn't throw anything away."
Technology has opened many new windows for law enforcement officers.
A typical subpoena to a cell phone service provider, Gidari said, can be
used to identify all calls on a certain date between 10:15 and 10:30
a.m. by everyone in a small town, or within a few square blocks of a big
Prosecutors, acting under the authority of grand jury investigations,
may issue subpoenas without prior approval of a judge. Critics complain
that the Patriot Act makes it possible for CIA agents working with law
enforcement officers to jointly draw up subpoenas, obtain information,
and never have to appear in court to explain how the information was
Online booksellers can be forced to divulge lists of customers who have
expressed interest in books about explosives, poisons or other subjects
that arouse suspicion. The government is also collecting photographs of
customers to include in databases for later matches against computerized
facial recognition systems, Gidari said.
"Without a judge's order, it used to be they could only get records of
someone they suspected was acting on behalf of a foreign government or a
terrorist organization," said Kate Martin, director for the Center for
National Security Studies, a nonprofit civil liberties group. "Now they
can get the records of anyone if they simply say it is `in connection'
with a terrorism investigation."
Under the Patriot Act, said James X. Dempsey, director of the Center for
Democracy & Technology and author of "Terrorism and the Constitution,"
the FBI "can go into a public library and ask for the records on anybody
who ever used the library, or who used it on a certain day, or checked
out certain kinds of books.
"It can do the same at any bank, telephone company, hotel or motel,
hospital or university -- merely upon the claim that the information is
`sought for' an investigation to protect against international terrorism
or clandestine intelligence activities."
Law enforcement officials have begun to press sources to deliver
information without a formal subpoena, according to company lawyers.
"Investigators have quickly learned that they don't need to leave a
paper trail anymore so nobody can judge the lawfulness of a request,"
At America Online, spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the company always
insists on a court order, a subpoena or a search warrant before turning
over information to the government.
But Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University who served as
a privacy counselor to the Clinton White House, said he is hearing
complaints about "requests for cooperation from law enforcement agencies
with the idea that it is unpatriotic if the companies insist too much on
legal subpoenas first."
Brent Scowcroft, who a decade ago was national security adviser to the
first President Bush and who now serves as an outside adviser to the
White House, acknowledges that homeland security requires "a kind of
trade-off" of privacy and civil liberties.
"The war on terrorism is basically a war of intelligence," Scowcroft
said. "Every time they move, every time they get money or spend money,
there's a trace, somewhere. What we need to do is get as many of those
traces as we can and put them together into a mosaic which will allow us
to uncover the al-Qaida network."
It is necessary to cast a wide net, Scowcroft suggested.
"There are a lot of things floating around that form a pattern that
probably defies our own mental ability to put together, but the computer
capacity we have now gives you great ability to link similar, apparently
very disparate and unconnected patterns together," he said.
There has been little public outcry against the trend, possibly because
"there is something that people just haven't grasped, though government
investigators have," Gidari said. "A network economy yields so much more
information about personal lives that can be collected and manipulated
in ways most people don't understand."
In fact, since Sept. 11, pollsters have tracked a dramatic shift in
public attitudes about government and privacy. In a national survey
March 28, pollster John Zogby found 55 percent in favor of allowing
police to search their purses, handbags, backpacks or packages at random
anywhere, while 48 percent would allow their cars to be searched, 36
percent would allow their mail to be searched and 26 percent said they
would not object to having telephone conversations monitored by
Prior to Sept. 11, rights to privacy in such areas were "inviolable, the
most cherished rights Americans had," Zogby said.
While polls indicate widespread public support for vigorous government
action to avert terrorist threats, some privacy experts and civil
liberties advocates worry about the possibility of mistakes compounding
in an overloaded information system and the long-term danger of abuses
when intrusions become routine.
Some government officials and others say that the war justifies broad
use of surveillance capabilities and new technologies, even at the cost
of diminishing privacy and civil liberties.
"When you engage in this debate, you're either going to fall on the side
of saying, `I more or less trust law enforcement even if they don't do
the right thing 100 percent of the time, and I don't mind them being
empowered' -- or you're going to say, `I don't trust law enforcement,
and I don't think they should be empowered,"' said Robert Atkinson,
formerly a senior analyst for the Congressional Office of Technology
Assessment, now vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a
Democratic think tank.
But it's not simply a matter of trust, said Dempsey of the Center for
Democracy & Technology, another Washington think tank.
"We endow government with tremendous power -- power to arrest you, take
away your property, take away your life, destroy your reputation, take
your children away from you," Dempsey said. "I think those powers in the
hands of human beings, acting under pressure, with the best of
intentions, facing time deadlines in a world of limited resources, those
kinds of powers need to be surrounded with a thicket of rules."
The problem that law enforcement and intelligence agencies face is not
insufficient information -- "they are choking on information," Dempsey
said. The deficiency is in targeting and analysis. The Patriot Act was
based on "the assumption if you pour more data into the system, then the
picture would become clearer, and I think that's a false presumption,"
The danger, said John Baker, a law professor at Louisiana State
University, is applying the government's war powers to domestic
activities. "We've never had such a mix-up between the president's
wartime powers and law enforcement," Baker said. "The president has wide
powers under war and national defense, but the national government does
not have wide powers for law enforcement."
In the '60s and '70s, the FBI ran a massive program called COINTELPRO
that included secret investigations, surveillance, infiltration and
disruption of political activist groups that were not engaged in illegal
conduct, including the civil rights movement, anti-war protesters and
Today, it is the accumulation of personal information about ordinary
citizens that most disturbs civil libertarians, who believe the nation
is commencing "the golden age" of wiretapping.
"Consumers should know that the information they give to America Online
or Microsoft may very well wind up at the IRS or the FBI," said Jeffrey
A. Eisenach, president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, a think
tank that studies technology and public policy. "Security is not
costless," Eisenach said.
Writing in the American Spectator recently, Eisenach said high-speed
data networks and new technologies "will indeed soon give governments
the ability to monitor the whereabouts of virtually everyone."
The aphorism "If you build it, they will come" is apt, said attorney
Gidari. "And `they' are the law enforcement authorities."
(Miles Benson can be contacted at miles -
- newhouse -
Mail an infowar -
- infopeace -
de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.