Feeds

Bush performs wiretapping U-turn

Courting the opposition

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The US government has made a major concession regarding a controversial domestic surveillance programme which is the subject of a lawsuit alleging that the activity is unconstitutional.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that the programme, which is operated by the National Security Agency, would now be overseen by a court.

Judicial oversight is one of the concessions demanded by critics of the programme, but Gonzales has proposed making the programme accountable to a secret military court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which sits in Washington behind closed doors.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the FISC to authorise surveillance of phone and net traffic as well as physical surveillance.

The NSA is accused in a suit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of operating an unconstitutional surveillance programme, which monitors the telephone traffic of US citizens. It accuses telco AT&T of allowing the NSA access to its networks, an accusation to which the company has not directly responded.

The EFF said that it was not yet clear if Gonzales's move affects its lawsuit.

Patrick Leahy (Dem. Vermont) at the head of the Senate's Judiciary Committee welcomed the move. "I welcome the President’s decision not to reauthorize the NSA’s warrantless spying program and instead to seek approval for all wiretaps from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as the law has required for years," he said.

"We must engage in all surveillance necessary to prevent acts of terrorism, but we can and should do so in ways that protect the basic rights of all Americans including the right to privacy," said Leahy. "The issue has never been whether to monitor suspected terrorists but doing it legally and with proper checks and balances to prevent abuses."

The EFF suit is based on the rights of US citizens to have private communications. "The lawsuit alleges that AT&T continues to assist the government in its secret surveillance of millions of Americans," said an EFF statement. "EFF, on behalf of a nationwide class of AT&T customers, is suing to stop this illegal conduct and hold AT&T responsible for its illegal collaboration in the government's domestic spying program, which has violated the law and damaged the fundamental freedoms of the American public."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.