Off for fidnet?

U.S. Government’s Plan to Establish Comprehensive Surveillance System Against Cyberattacks Under Fire

After the U.S. government’s plan to establish a comprehensive surveillance system for the Internet to protect against cyber-attacks (U.S. Government Plans Comprehensive Surveillance System) was made public by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), it was met with vocal criticism. Particularly under attack was the intention to include in the Federal Intrusion Detection Network, or FIDNet, not only government computer systems but also private networks.

Although the proposed surveillance system was supposed to look only for unusual patterns of activity on the Internet to detect attacks on computer systems early, civil libertarians fear that it could weaken data protection. Authorities asserted that the draft has yet to undergo legal review, and a spokesman for the FBI denied that FIDNet was intended to monitor nongovernmental computer systems at all. John Tritak, director of the Critical Infrastructure Arance Office, countered that privacy was a primary concern with the project.

On Friday, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office also reacted to the FIDNET plan and, in approving the budget for the Justice, Commerce and Interior Departments, prohibited spending on the controversial surveillance system. The committee expressed concern about the lack of clarity regarding responsibility for the interagency system and criticized the fact that it could only duplicate projects already underway.

For the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), FIDNet is just another outgrowth of the U.S. government’s hyped infrastructure protection agenda. The planned surveillance measures will cause more damage to society than possible cyberattacks. "There are", according to David Sobel of EPIC, "the real danger of developing a Cold War mentality in government when talking about the potential dangers of the Internet and communications technology."

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