ACLU Recommends Modifications to Cyber-Crime Bill, Changes Would Protect Privacy Rights of Internet Users

April 24, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today urged a House committee to modestly change a cyber security bill to better protect Internet users’ privacy rights.

“The bill broadly expands the ability of Internet service providers to hand over personal communications to virtually any state, local or federal agency,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “The government is perfectly capable of protecting our safety without Congress allowing Internet providers to report on American citizens without safeguards against abuse in place.”

The bill, called the “The Security Enhancement Act of 2001” (HR 3482) and sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), is set for markup today in the House Judiciary Committee.

The ACLU specifically objected a provision in the bill that requires Internet service providers to disclose personal e-mail and other electronic communication to any state, local or federal group – even if they are not law enforcement agencies. This expands a more narrow change in privacy laws included in the USA PATRIOT Act, which became law last fall.

Worse, these disclosures would occur without any oversight whatsoever, uping the incentive for government agencies and law enforcement groups to use the broader discretion of Internet providers to circumvent any warrant requirement, the ACLU said.

The ACLU’s letter on the bill can be found at:

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