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EPIC Alert 8.08 [2001] EPICAlert 8


Volume 8.08 May 2, 2001

Published by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

[1] Report: Lots of "Portable" Wiretaps; No Encryption Problems
[2] Order Served on News Site Raises Significant Issues
[3] EPIC Files FOIA Request on First 100 Days on Privacy
[4] Survey Shows Workplace Monitoring Continues to Rise
[5] Subscribe to the EPIC-Digest!

[6] EPIC Bill-Track: New Bills in Congress
[7] EPIC Bookstore - Body of Secrets
[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

[1] Report: Lots of "Portable" Wiretaps; No Encryption Problems

As required by law, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts hasreleased its annual report on federal and state applications for theinterception of communications. While the overall number of wiretapsdecreased last year, a significant majority of electronic surveillancewas directed at portable devices such as cellular phones and pagers.
In another significant finding, the new report discloses that noinvestigations were thwarted by the use of encryption technology. Thereport is based upon all data on wiretaps conducted from January 1,
2000 through December 1, 2000.

Last year, a total of 1,190 federal and state wiretaps wereauthorized, a decrease from 1999 when an all-time high of 1,350wiretap applications were approved. As is often the case, no wiretapapplications were denied during the year. Of the 1,190 authorizedwiretaps, 479 were authorized by federal judges and 711 by statejudges, both slightly smaller numbers than the previous year.
Consistent with earlier wiretap reports, the vast majority ofwiretaps, seventy-five percent, were authorized for narcoticsinvestigations.

This year's report introduces "portable devices, carried by/onindividual," such as cellular phones and pagers, as a new category fordata relating to location of wiretaps. The "portable" category turnedout to be the most popular as sixty percent -- 715 wiretaps in all --
of wiretaps were authorized for portable devices. Of the 715 portabledevice wiretaps, 691 involved cellular telephones.

The 2000 Wiretap report is also the first to indicate whetherencryption was encountered by law enforcement officials in the courseof a wiretap and whether it hindered obtaining plaintext. Amendmentsto the wiretap statute now require the collection of such databeginning with this year's report. In 2000, no federal wiretapsencountered encryption, but state and local agencies encounteredtwenty-two situations where encryption was used. In all twenty-twoinvestigations, the use of encryption did not prevent access toplaintext. The report does not go on to say how such plaintext wasobtained.

For the period 1990-2000, the number of wiretaps has increasedthirty-six percent from 872 at the beginning of the decade to 1,190for this past year.

The 2000 Wiretap Report is available online:
Table displaying results of past Wiretap Reports since 1968:

[2] Order Served on News Site Raises Significant Issues

An international inquiry into the alleged theft of Canadian governmentdocuments could establish important precedents for the conduct ofonline investigations. On April 21, the Independent Media Center(IMC) in Seattle was served with a sealed court order seekinginformation about all users who had accessed the group's web serverduring a 48-hour period. The order, issued by U.S. Magistrate JudgeMonica Benton and served by agents of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service,
prohibited the IMC from disclosing the existence of the order or theunderlying investigation. In response to First Amendment argumentsraised by counsel for the organization, Judge Benson lifted the "gagorder" on April 27, permitting public discussion of the matter. Theother portions of the order, compelling disclosure of userinformation, remain in effect.

The order states that it was issued as part of an "ongoing criminalinvestigation" into acts that could constitute violations of Canadianlaw, specifically theft and mischief. Although the order does notprovide additional details, the federal agents told IMC volunteersthat the investigation concerned the source of either one or twopostings which, they said, had been posted to an IMC newswire. Theseposts, according to the agents, contained documents stolen from aCanadian government agency, including classified information relatedto the travel itinerary of George W. Bush (who was at that time inQuebec City, participating in Summit of the Americas meetings).

Although the agents claimed an interest in only two posts, the courtorder demands "all user connections logs" for a 48-hour period, whichwould include individual IP addresses for every person who postedmaterials to or visited the IMC site during the Quebec protestsagainst the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas. The Seattle IMCwas launched in 1999 to provide grassroots coverage of protestsagainst the WTO; the IMC network now reaches around the world, withdozens of sites scattered across six continents. Each IMC's newscoverage centers upon its open-publishing newswire, a system thatallows "anyone with access to an Internet connection to become ajournalist, reporting on events from his or her own perspective."

Recognizing that an order compelling the disclosure of informationidentifying an indiscriminately large number of users of a websitedevoted to political discourse raises very serious constitutionalissues, EPIC is assisting the IMC as part of its national legal team.
The group plans to file a motion seeking to quash the disclosureorder.

The text of the court order served on the IMC is available at:

[3] EPIC Files FOIA Request on First 100 Days on Privacy

Earlier this week, EPIC submitted a series of Freedom of InformationAct (FOIA) requests in an effort to determine the Bush administration'scommitment to privacy protection during its first 100 days. Therequests focus on appointment books of senior officials and transition-
al memoranda from the Department of the Treasury, Department ofCommerce, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission,
and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Privacy protection was an important element of President Bush'scampaign. During the campaign, President Bush articulated strongsupport for privacy protections. In an Associated Press interview,
President Bush called privacy a "fundamental right," and vowed toplace privacy protections in law for individuals' sensitive personalinformation. In other interviews, President Bush referred to himselfas a "privacy guy," and said that every American should have "absolutecontrol over his or her personal information."

The series of FOIA requests for appointment books should reveal thefrequency with which senior agency officials met with lobbyists andother political interests to discuss privacy issues during the first100 days of the Bush administration.

The FOIA requests for transition team memoranda will indicate how BushAdministration officials directed executive agency heads to formulateand execute policies on privacy.

The series of EPIC FOIA requests is available at:

[4] Survey Shows Workplace Monitoring Continues to Rise

A new study by the American Management Association (AMA) reveals thatworkplace surveillance continues to rise. The American ManagementAssociation's 2001 Annual Survey on Workplace Monitoring andSurveillance, released on April 18, finds that nearly eighty percentof all major U.S. companies carry out some form of employeemonitoring, a dramatic increase from thirty-five percent in 1997.
Approximately sixty-three percent of companies review employees'
Internet use and forty-seven percent monitor email communications.
Furthermore, twenty-five percent of companies say they have firedemployees, and sixty-five percent have disciplined, for misuse ofthese services. Other common forms of surveillance include telephonemonitoring and video surveillance. According to the survey, mostemployers cite legal compliance, legal liability, performance review,
productivity measures and security concerns as their top reasons forsnooping on their employees.

Last year, a bill requiring employers to notify workers of suchsurveillance was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a Congressional hearing on the bill, EPIC stated that any workplacesurveillance legislation should include strong privacy protectionprinciples in keeping with Fair Information Practices and theInternational Labour Organization privacy guidelines.

A summary of the American Management Association's 2001 Annual Surveyon Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance is available at:
EPIC's Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on HR 4908, theNotice of Electronic Monitoring Act, is available at:

[5] Subscribe to the EPIC-Digest!

The EPIC-Digest is a weekly compilation of privacy news andinformation items posted on Each news item contains abrief abstract and links to news articles and other information.
Individuals can subscribe to e-mail delivery of the Digest at theaddress below. is the site for daily news, information, and initiativeson privacy. The web site is a joint project of the Electronic PrivacyInformation Center (EPIC) and Privacy International.

Subscribe to the EPIC-Digest at:

[6] EPIC Bill-Track: New Bills in Congress


H.R.1543. Civil Rights and Employee Investigation Clarification Act.
To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to exempt certaincommunications from the definition of consumer report, and for otherpurposes. Sponsor: Rep Sessions, Pete (R-TX) Latest Major Action:
4/24/2001 Referred to House committee House Financial Services.


S.705 Health Information Technology and Quality Improvement Act of2001. A bill to establish a health information technology grantprogram for hospitals and for skilled nursing facilities and homehealth agencies, and to require the Secretary of Health and HumanServices to establish and implement a methodology under the medicareprogram for providing hospitals with reimbursement for costs incurredby such hospitals with respect to information technology systems.
Sponsor: Sen Schumer, Charles E. (D-NY) Latest Major Action: 4/5/2001Referred to Senate committee: Senate Finance.

EPIC Bill Track: Tracking Privacy, Speech, and Cyber-Liberties Billsin the 107th Congress, is available at:

[7] EPIC Bookstore - Body of Secrets

Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency- From the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century, by James Bamford
The NSA is the largest, most secretive, and most powerful intelligenceagency in the world. With a staff of 38,000 people, it dwarfs the CIAin budget, manpower, and influence. Recent headlines have linked itto the economic espionage throughout Europe and to the ongoing huntfor the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

James Bamford first penetrated the wall of silence surrounding the NSAin 1982, with the much-talked-about bestseller The Puzzle Palace. InBody of Secrets, he offers shocking new details about the innerworkings of the agency, gathered through unique access to thousands ofinternal documents and interviews with current and former officials.
Unveiling extremely sensitive information for the first time, Bamfordexposes the role the NSA played in numerous Soviet bloc Cold Warconflicts and discusses its undercover involvement in the Vietnam War.
His investigation into the NSA's technological advances during thelast fifteen years brings to light a network of global surveillanceranging from on-line listening posts to sophisticated intelligence-
gathering satellites. In a hard-hitting conclusion, he warns that theNSA is a two-edged sword. While its worldwide eavesdroppingactivities offer the potential for tracking down terrorists anduncovering nuclear weapons deals, it also has the capability to listenon global personal communications.

For other books recommended by EPIC, browse the EPIC Bookshelf at:

EPIC Publications:

"The Consumer Law Sourcebook 2000: Electronic Commerce and the GlobalEconomy," Sarah Andrews, editor (EPIC 2000). Price: $40.

The Consumer Law Sourcebook provides a basic set of materials forconsumers, policy makers, practitioners and researchers who areinterested in the emerging field of electronic commerce. The focus ison framework legislation that articulates basic rights for consumersand the basic responsibilities for businesses in the online economy.

"Privacy & Human Rights 2000: An International Survey of Privacy Lawsand Developments," David Banisar, author (EPIC 2000).
Price: $20.

This survey, by EPIC and Privacy International, reviews the state ofprivacy in over fifty countries around the world. The survey examinesa wide range of privacy issues including, data protection, telephonetapping, genetic databases, ID systems and freedom of informationlaws.

"The Privacy Law Sourcebook 2000: United States Law, InternationalLaw, and Recent Developments," Marc Rotenberg, editor (EPIC 2000).
Price: $40.

The "Physicians Desk Reference of the privacy world." An invaluableresource for students, attorneys, researchers and journalists who needan up-to-date collection of U.S. and International privacy law, aswell as a comprehensive listing of privacy resources.

"Cryptography and Liberty 2000: An International Survey of EncryptionPolicy," Wayne Madsen and David Banisar, authors (EPIC 2000).
Price: $20.

EPIC's third survey of encryption policies around the world. Theresults indicate that the efforts to reduce export controls on strongencryption products have largely succeeded, although severalgovernments are gaining new powers to combat the perceived threats ofencryption to law enforcement.

"Filters and Freedom: Free Speech Perspectives on Internet ContentControls," David Sobel, editor (EPIC 1999). Price: $20.

A collection of essays, studies, and critiques of Internet contentfiltering. These papers are instrumental in explaining why filteringthreatens free expression.

Additional titles on privacy, open government, free expression,
computer security, and crypto, as well as films and DVDs can beordered through the EPIC Bookstore:

[8] Upcoming Conferences and Events

The First Annual Privacy and Data Protection Summit. Privacy OfficersAssociation. May 2-4, 2001. Arlington, VA. For more information:
The 26th Annual AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. May 3-4, 2001.
Washington, DC. For more information:
Surveillance, Risk, and Social Categorization. The SurveillanceProject, Queen's University. May 3-5, 2001. Kingston, Ontario CANADA.
For more information:
Future of the Internet: Preserving the Internet's Openness, Freedom,
and Diversity. Center for Media Education and Center for DigitalDemocracy. May 9, 2001. Washington, DC. For more information:
The Internet and State Security Forum (ISSF). Cambridge Review ofInternational Affairs. May 19, 2001. Cambridge, England. For moreinformation:

Communication Research and Policy Workshop. Ford Foundation andComputer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). May 24, 2001.
Washington, DC. For more information:
It's the Public's Right. National Freedom of Information Coalition.
May 25-27, 2001. Newport Beach, CA. For more information:

Call for Papers - June 1, 2001. Summer 2001 Issue on Cybermedicine.
John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law. For moreinformation:
The Internet Security Conference (TISC) 2001. Core Competence, Inc.
June 4-8, 2001. Los Angeles, CA. For more information:

INET 2001: A Net Odyssey, Mobility and the Internet. The 11th AnnualInternet Society Conference. June 5-8, 2001. Stockholm, Sweden. Formore information:

ETHICOMP 2001: Systems of the Information Society. Telecommunicationsand Informatics Technical University of Gdansk, Poland. June 18-20,
2001. Gdansk, Poland. For more information:

ACS/IEEE International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications2001: Taking Stock of Existing Technology, Charting Future Trends.
Lebanese American University. June 25-29, 2001. Beirut, Lebanon. Formore information:
Democracy Forum 2001: Democracy and the Information Revolution.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. June27-29, 2001. Stockholm, Sweden. For more information:
Call for Papers - June 30, 20001. CEPE2001: Computer Ethics,
Philosophical Enquiries. Lancaster University (UK). Centre for Studyof Technology in Organizations, Institute for Environment, Philosophyand Public Policy. December 14-16, 2001. For more information:

Re-shaping the Culture of Research: People, Participation,
Partnerships & Practical Tools - Fourth Annual Community ResearchNetwork Conference. The Loka Institute. July 6-8, 2001. Austin, TX.
For more information:

Call For Submissions - August 3, 2001. Workshop on Security andPrivacy in Digital Rights Management 2001. Eighth Association forComputing Machinery (ACM) Conference on Computer and CommunicationsSecurity. November 5, 2001. For more information:

ICSC 2001: International Conference on Social Computing. University ofBremen. October 1-3, 2001. Bremen, Germany. For more information:

Privacy2001: Information, Security & Ethics for the New Century.
Technology Policy Group. October 3-4, 2001. Cleveland, Ohio. For moreinformation:

Nurturing the Cybercommons, 1981-2001. Computer Professionals forSocial Responsibility (CPSR) 20th Annual Meeting. October 19-21, 2001.
Ann Arbor, MI. For more information:

Learning for the Future. Business for Social Responsibility's NinthAnnual Conference. November 7-9, 2001. Seattle, WA. For moreinformation:

Subscription Information

The EPIC Alert is a free biweekly publication of the ElectronicPrivacy Information Center. A Web-based form is available forsubscribing or unsubscribing at:
To subscribe or unsubscribe using email, send email with the subject: "subscribe" (no quotes) or"unsubscribe".

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Privacy Policy

The EPIC Alert mailing list is used only to mail the EPIC Alert and tosend notices about EPIC activities. We do not sell, rent or share ourmailing list. We also intend to challenge any subpoena or other legalprocess seeking access to our mailing list. We do not enhance (linkto other databases) our mailing list or require your actual name.

In the event you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe your email addressfrom this list, please follow the above instructions under"subscription information". Please contact if you haveany other questions.

About EPIC

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interestresearch center in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 tofocus public attention on emerging privacy issues such as the ClipperChip, the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medicalrecord privacy, and the collection and sale of personal information.
EPIC publishes the EPIC Alert, pursues Freedom of Information Actlitigation, and conducts policy research. For more information,
e-mail, or write EPIC, 1718Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009.
+1 202 483 1140 (tel), +1 202 483 1248 (fax).

If you'd like to support the work of the Electronic PrivacyInformation Center, contributions are welcome and fullytax-deductible. Checks should be made out to "EPIC" and sent to1718 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009.
Or you can contribute online at
Your contributions will help support Freedom of Information Act andFirst Amendment litigation, strong and effective advocacy for theright of privacy and efforts to oppose government regulation ofencryption and expanding wiretapping powers.

Thank you for your support.

END EPIC Alert 8.08


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