- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday named a privacy czar to monitor the privacy implications of technologies used by law enforcement agencies in the pursuit of crime, including the FBI cyberprogram known as "Carnivore."

The Justice Department's new chief privacy officer is Associate Deputy Attorney General Daniel P. Collins.

"Dan Collins' responsibilities are of utmost importance," Mr. Ashcroft said in a statement. "As new technologies and scientific developments emerge, we are faced with new challenges to citizens' privacy rights.

"I trust him to make certain we are taking precautions to protect the right to privacy that every American deserves," he said.

In addition to monitoring privacy issues involving law enforcement, Mr. Collins will oversee the department's compliance with laws protecting the privacy of the information it acquires in the course of its operations and its responsibility to enforce existing laws protecting personal privacy. He will consider proposed legislation or regulations to address privacy issues.

Mr. Ashcroft directed Mr. Collins to conduct a review of the Carnivore system, now known as DCS1000, which the FBI has described as an essential crime-fighting tool, and to make specific recommendations for any necessary modifications.

The software program allows FBI agents armed with a court order to target and identify those suspected of using the Internet for illegal activities.

Mr. Ashcroft — a longtime privacy advocate and, as a Republican senator from Missouri, a chief sponsor of a bill to guarantee "e-privacy" — has the option to approve, modify or kill the DCS1000 program. A report on the system was given to him in April.

The appointment of a privacy czar was discussed in a closed-door meeting at the Justice Department earlier this year between Mr. Ashcroft and privacy advocates, who have expressed concern over the DCS1000 program. The software system, already in limited use, lets the FBI scan e-mail messages for certain addresses. It does not read the messages' content, only the sender's and recipient's addresses.

The program scans and captures "packets," the standard unit of Internet traffic, as they travel through an Internet service provider network. The FBI can install a DCS1000 unit at the provider's network station and configure it to capture only e-mail to or from someone under investigation.

Previously, Mr. Collins worked as a partner at the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson. From 1997 to 1998, he was an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. From 1992 to 1996, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, where he prosecuted more than 60 federal cases.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide