Operation TIPS Scaled Back, ACLU Still Critical

August 9, 2002 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today to reporters that, “given the concerns raised during the program development phase about safeguarding against all possibilities of invasion of individual privacy, … the [Operation TIPS] hotline number will not be shared with any workers, including postal and utility workers, whose work puts them in contact with homes and private property.” The program will still seek to enlist workers involved in the “transportation, trucking, shipping, maritime, and mass transit industries.” Interestingly, the department will also distribute to relevant industries information on how to participate, but would leave any training up to the private sector. See the Department of Justice’s Operation TIPS fact sheet, released today, for more information.

The following is a response by ACLU Legislative Counsel, Rachel King.

“”This looks like public relations damage control — the Department of Justice has scaled back its program of government-sanctioned peeping toms, but has done little to fix the underlying problem,”” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.

“”While it is a relief that utility workers or letter carriers will not be recruited to snoop on private activity in our homes, it is still troubling that armies of truckers, dockworkers and railway personnel – untrained in the demands of our civil liberties – will be enlisted to snoop,”” King said. “”America should never be a place where citizen is pitted against citizen.””

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