Big Brother Trains His Big Ears On Electronic Networks

To bug your telephone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Dept. must obtain a court order. But the rules will be much more lenient for eavesdropping mn electronic networks, such as the Internet, CompuServe, and America Online. Government agents will only be required to demonstrate that a person merits investigation. At least that's what the Administration will propose in a measure soon to be introduced on Capitol Hill. The proposal would also require that all network providers build in the capability to record any person's messages and deliver them to federal law-enforcement authorities.

The bill seems certain to touch off a right-to-privacy brouhaha. Opposition will no doubt come from such advocacy groups as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and they could be joined by much of the telecommunications industry. But Justice and the FBI believe that without such power, terrorists and criminals will find it easier to evade detection and corrupt the information


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