U.S. Undermining Liberties at Home By Working Through Secretive International Forums, ACLU Says
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEATTLE -- The American Civil Liberties Union, in concert with the European civil liberties groups Privacy International and Statewatch, today announced the formation of a new international ""Policy Laundering Project"" to monitor and influence the increasingly common formation of civil liberties-sensitive security policies through international organizations.
""In more and more areas, we are seeing security agencies pushing anti-privacy measures before international groups and foreign governments instead of through the domestic political process,"" said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Project. ""This is the strategy we call policy laundering. The security agencies and law enforcement are 'going global' - and so must the protection of civil liberties.""
The policy laundering project was announced at the annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference taking place this week. At a news conference today, the ACLU cited several direct impacts of policy laundering on Americans:
As one example of the growing trend of globalized security cooperation, the ACLU pointed to the case of the reporting collective Indymedia, which received a visit and a subpoena from FBI agents and subsequently had its servers seized in London, apparently at the behest of Swiss police who were angry that photographs of undercover officers at a political rally had been published.
""We are now living in a world where closed-door negotiations in Geneva between U.S. Justice Department officials and their Swiss counterparts result in a knock on the door by FBI agents at an Internet Service Provider in Texas,"" said Steinhardt. ""Although we are an organization that has always been focused on protecting liberty in a domestic American context, it is now impossible to do so without going global.""
""Law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies from different nations are increasingly working together out of the public eye to amass new powers,"" Steinhardt added. ""The ACLU has always adapted when necessary to protect liberty in the United States, and now is such a time. We intend to ramp up our ability to join the fight on the international stage.""
The ACLU said that the Policy Laundering Project will focus on building up the capacity to monitor and influence international governmental organizations (IGOs), building connections to civil society groups and government officials in nations around the world, and keeping those officials and groups informed about the ways in which their governments stand to be affected by various policy laundering attempts.
In conjunction with the announcement, the ACLU also announced formation of a new Web site at www.policylaundering.org.