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Date: 1999-12-03

EPIC klagt gegen die NSA

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Seit heute versucht EPIC [Electronic Privacy Information
Center] jene internen Dokumente herauszuklagen, welche die
NSA anläßlich der letzten Untersuchung im Kongress den
Abgeordneten verweigert hat.

Außerdem wurde noch Duncan Campbell für die nächsten
Monate engagiert, um für das zu erwartende Hearing im
Kongress über die Abhörtätigkeit der NSA gegen eigene
Bürger mit einer neuen Untersuchung vorbereitet zu sein.

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WASHINGTON, DC - The Electronic Privacy Information
Center (EPIC) today asked a federal court to order the
release of controversial documents concerning potential
government surveillance of American citizens. EPIC's lawsuit
seeks the public disclosure of internal National Security
Agency (NSA) documents discussing the legality of the
agency's intelligence activities.

NSA refused to provide the documents to the House
Intelligence Committee earlier this year, resulting in an
unusual public reprimand of the secretive spy agency. Rep.
Porter J. Goss, chairman of the oversight panel, wrote in a
committee report in May that NSA's rationale for withholding
the legal memoranda was "unpersuasive and dubious." He
noted that if NSA lawyers "construed the Agency's
authorities too permissively, then the privacy interests of the
citizens of the United States could be at risk." Soon after the
release of the Intelligence Committee report, EPIC submitted
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to NSA for the
documents. Despite the FOIA's time limit of 20 working
days, the agency has not responded to EPIC's request.

EPIC Director Marc Rotenberg said "the charter of the
National Security Agency does not authorize domestic
intelligence gathering. Yet we have reason to believe that the
NSA is engaged in the indiscriminate acquisition and
interception of domestic communications taking place over
the Internet."

The surveillance activities of the NSA have recently come
under increased scrutiny, with published reports indicating
that the agency is coordinating a massive global interception
initiative known as ECHELON. The current issue of the New
Yorker magazine reports that it took NSA only 11 months to
fill three years' worth of planned storage capacity for
intercepted Internet traffic.

The legal basis for NSA's interception activities is a critical
issue that EPIC plans to evaluate in a comprehensive study
to be released early next year. That study will be conducted
by Duncan Campbell, a Scottish investigative journalist and
TV producer. Earlier this year, Campbell was appointed a
consultant to the European Parliament and prepared a
technology assessment report on ECHELON and
communications intelligence which contained the first public
documentary evidence of the global surveillance system.
Campbell will be working with EPIC as a Senior Research
Fellow for several months to produce a report for presentation
at anticipated congressional hearings on the topic of signals
intelligence agencies, the Fourth Amendment and human

More information on ECHELON is available at the
EchelonWatch website, which is administered by the
American Civil Liberties Union:

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