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EPIC Alert 3.16  EPICAlert 16 (12 September 1996)
Volume 3.16 September 12, 1996
Published by the
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Table of Contents
 White House Proposes Screening of all Airline Passengers
 EPIC Testifies on Children's Privacy Bill
 House Panel Probes White House Database
 Crypto Update
 Anonymous Remailer Shuts Down
 EPIC Now Accepts First Virtual Contributionst
 EPIC/PI to Sponsor Conference on Surveillance Technologies
 Upcoming Conferences and Events
In the wake of perceived terrorist threats and the mysterious crash ofTWA Flight 800 in July, a Presidential advisory panel has proposed
anautomated system for increased screening and "profiling" of airlinepassengers for all domestic and international flights. In its
interimreport sent to President Clinton on September 9, the White HouseCommission on Aviation Safety and Security provided few specifics,
butnoted that "[b]ased on information that is already in computerdatabases, passengers could be separated into a very large majoritywho
present little or no risk, and a small minority who meritadditional attention."
Details of the profiling system will presumably be withheld from thepublic on national security grounds -- a substantial portion of
theCommission's "public" meeting on September 5 was closed to permit thediscussion of "classified" matters. Nonetheless, the proposed
systemappears to raise substantial privacy issues. The Washington Postrecently reported that under the proposal, "the federal governmentwould
require creation of a computer profiling system that wouldexamine passengers' bill-paying records, flying habits and much otherdata
to determine which checked baggage should undergo examination bysophisticated explosives detection equipment." The Commission'sinitial
report also calls for FBI and CIA involvement in thedevelopment of the profiling database.
The theory underlying the profiling proposal appears to be that evenseemingly innocuous bits of personal data can raise the suspicions
ofa law enforcement agency. This point is illustrated by the commentsof an unidentified FBI agent recently quoted in a New York
Timesarticle. Discussing the Bureau's investigation of the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Scotland, the agent noted that, "Almost
everyone onthe plane, almost everyone you ever met, has something that can getyour imagination going. A recent fight, a divorce,
a business deal,
an overseas connection -- when you don't know what you're looking for,
it's easy to see all kinds of possibilities."
EPIC plans to monitor the development of the automated passengerprofiling system under the public oversight provisions of the FederalAdvisory
Committee Act, which governs the proceedings of the WhiteHouse Commission.
More information, including relevant government documents, isavailable at:
EPIC Director Marc Rotenberg testified today before the HouseJudiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime in support of the ChildrensPrivacy
Protection and Parental Empowerment Act of 1996. The billwould establish basic privacy standards for organizations that collectpersonal
information on children and curb recent abuses in themarketing industry. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ)
and has 46 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. A similarmeasure has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein(D-CA).
Rotenberg said that "current practices pose a substantial threat tothe privacy and safety of young people." He described a recentincident
where a reporter posing as the murderer of Polly Klaas wasable to obtain the ages and address of young children living in thePasadena
area. Rotenberg also cited editorials from USA Today and theEconomist favoring privacy legislation as well as public opinion pollswhich
show that 9 out of 10 Americans object to the sale of personaldata where explicit consent is not obtained.
Recalling the passage of the Family Educational Right to Privacy Actof 1974, which protects the privacy of student records, Rotenberg
saidthere was already Congressional recognition of the need to protectpersonal information about young children. "No universities
have beenshut down because of the Act, but the privacy of children'seducational records is more secure because Congress did not fail
toact when it had the opportunity to establish privacy protection foryoung people." Also testifying in support of the bill were Rep.
BobFranks, children rights advocate Marc Klaas, and Miriam Bell of Enoughis Enough. Marc Klaas also heads the Klaas Foundation for
Childrenwhich launched the Kids Off Lists campaign.
Testifying against the bill were representatives from the DirectMarketing Association, a list broker, a book publisher, and a policeofficer
from San Bernardino.
More information on the Childrens Privacy bill and kids privacy may befound at:
The Klaas Foundation for Children is on the web at:
The General Accounting Office revealed at a hearing of a subcommitteeof the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on
September11 that the secret White House database of 200,000 people hasinadequate controls on access. The GAO reported that the database,
the existence of which was revealed during the Filegate controversy,
does not keep track of what files have been viewed by the 150 WhiteHouse staffers who are authorized to access the files.
The database contains 125 different fields of information for eachfile. Several thousand files included ethnic and politicalinformation.
The GAO did not reveal in its testimony what wascontained in the other fields. According to news reports, the databasewas designed
to link into other related databases, including theSecret Service and the Democratic National Committee.
The White House claims that the database is used for a number ofreasons, including invitation lists for White House events, trackingcorrespondence,
sending out Christmas cards and other matters.
Congressional Republicans claim that it is more akin to the Nixon"enemies list."
The database was created by PRC Inc., a company that also createsdatabases for the CIA and other intelligence agencies, among othergovernment
As the election approaches and Congress scrambles to complete itsagenda before recessing for the year, members are continuing to dealwith
The Senate Commerce Committee delayed its scheduled vote on S. 1735,
the Promotion of Commerce Online in the Digital Era, originallyplanned for September 12. The Committee is expected to take up themeasure
next week. Members of the Committee have reported receiving alarge number of calls supporting the bill. Individuals interested insupporting
the bill should continue calling members of the Committee.
The House is planning to hold hearings at the end of September toexamine the companion House bill. The hearings were originallyscheduled
for September 11 but were delayed due to other legislativematters.
The White House is also expected to introduce its own legislation nextweek. According to reporter Brock Meeks, the legislation will
offer"sweetheart deals" to limited segments of the industry includingfinancial, health care and insurance sectors who would then
agree tosupport government key escrow systems. The systems would then becomede facto mandatory.
Internationally, an expert committee of the Organization for EconomicCooperation and Development is meeting on September 26-27 to
reviewdraft guidelines on cryptography policy. The US has been pressuringthe OECD to adopt its key escrow proposals as an internationalstandard
but has been opposed by other countries and businessrepresentatives.
EPIC will be hosting an international symposium in Paris on September25, in cooperation with the OECD, to provide an opportunity forcryptographers,
human rights advocates, privacy experts and userassociations to present public concerns about the development ofinternational privacy
guidelines. The event will feature speakers frommore than a dozen countries and includes US cryptographers Matt Blaze,
Whit Diffie, and Phil Zimmermann.
On September 20, oral arguments will be heard in DanielBernstein's challenge to the constitutionality of export controls infederal
court in San Francisco. Bernstein is arguing that the controlsviolate the First Amendment. Judge Marilyn Patel ruled preliminarilyin
May that software code is speech protected by the First Amendment
More information on cryptography is available from:
Johann Helsingius, the operator of the anon.penet.fi anonymous e-mailservice has decided to shut down his remailer service because
of theunknown legal protections of privacy on the Internet. He had comereceived requests by the Church of Scientology and the Singaporegovernment
demanding to know the identity of some of his users.
In a press release, he said that he hoped to bring the server back uponce the Finnish government enacted new laws protecting privacy
ofelectronic messages, "I will close down the remailer for the timebeing because the legal issues governing the Internet in Finland
areyet undefined. The legal protection of the users needs to beclarified. At the moment the privacy of Internet messages isjudicially
A list of remailers and other tools to protect privacy are availablefrom:
Individuals interested in donating or purchasing books from EPIC cannow use the First Virtual system to transfer money to EPIC. Until
theend of 1996, donations of up to $50 will be matched by the SternFoundation. Your support is appreciated and will help make possibleour
continued FOIA litigation, privacy advocacy, and web sitedevelopment.
More information about supporting EPIC is available at:
The new generation of covert surveillance activities of governmentagencies and private companies will be examined at a conference
to beheld in Ottawa next week, sponsored by EPIC and Privacy International.
The conference will explore the process of planning and implementationof the technologies, their operating conditions, and the people
andorganizations responsible for instituting them. The conference willalso examine possible technical, regulatory and legal responses.
A number of former government agents, intelligence experts andsurveillance analysts will gather at the Advanced SurveillanceTechnologies
II conference on September 16th to discuss the use ofpowerful new technologies being used to gather information.
Speakers will include Mike Frost, a former intelligence officer forthe Canadian Communications Security Establishment and author of
thebestseller "Spyworld." He will discuss the surveillance technologiesused by the CSE and its American counterpart, the National
The Conference will take place at the Citadel Hotel in Ottawa, Canada.
More information is available on the conference from the PrivacyInternational Web Page at:
"Advanced Surveillance Technologies II." September 16, 1996. Ottawa,
Canada. Sponsored by EPIC and Privacy International. Contact:
http://www.privacy.org/pi/conference/ottawa/ or email piprivacy.org.
"Privacy Beyond Borders", 18th International Privacy and DataProtection Conference. September 18-20, 1996. Ottawa, Canada.
Sponsored by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Contact:
jroyfox.nstn.ca or http://infoweb.magi.com/~privcan/
"Regulation or Private Ordering? The Future of the Internet."
September 20, 1996. Washington, DC. Sponsored by the CATO Institute.
Contact: R. Scott Wallis, (202) 789-5296.
"The Public Voice and the Development of International CryptographyPolicy." September 25, 1996. Paris, France. Sponsored by EPIC.
"The 2nd International Conference & Exhibit on Doing Business Securelyon the Information Highway." September 30 - October 1, 1996.
Quebec, Canada. Contact:
"Managing Privacy in Cyberspace and Across National Borders." October8-10, 1996. Washington, DC. Sponsored by Privacy and AmericanBusiness.
Contact: Lorrie Sherwood, (201) 996-1154.
"The Information Society: New Risks & Opportunities in Privacy,"
October 17-18, 1996. Bruxelles, Belgium. Sponsored by the EuropeanParliament. Contact: http://www.droit.fundp.ac.be/privacy96.html
"Communications Unleashed - What's at Stake? Who Benefits? How to GetInvolved!" October 19-20, 1996. Washington DC. Sponsored by CPSR
andGeorgetown University. Contact: phylandaol.com.
"19th National Information Systems Security Conference." October22-25, 1996. Baltimore, MD. Sponsored by NSA & NIST. Contact: TammyGrice
"Eurosec'97, the Seventh Annual Forum on Information Systems Qualityand Security." March 17-19. 1997. Paris, France. Sponsored by
XPConseil. Contact: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/eurosec/
(Send calendar submissions to Alertepic.org)
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The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interestresearch center in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 to focuspublic
attention on emerging privacy issues relating to the NationalInformation Infrastructure, such as the Clipper Chip, the DigitalTelephony
proposal, medical record privacy, and the sale of consumerdata. EPIC is sponsored by the Fund for Constitutional Government, anon-profit
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