The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brian Wesolowski,Director of Communications,,+1 (202) 407-8814

CDT Report: Privacy, Legal Concerns Surround Secret Government Cybersecurity System


The Center for Democracy & Technology today released a report
outlining a series of privacy and legal questions that surround the
government computer monitoring system known as "Einstein." The report
calls on the Administration to release information about the legal
authority for Einstein, the role of the nation's top spy agency, the
National Security Agency, in its development and operation, and the
impact of Einstein on the privacy.

According to published reports, Einstein is an "intrusion detection
system" that continuously monitors government networks looking for
malicious code or hacking activity. Currently, the Department of
Homeland Security uses "Einstein 2," and other agencies are scheduled
to follow. According to reports, a new version, Einstein 3, is being
developed. While both versions monitor networks looking for
pre-identified threats, such as known viruses, Einstein 3 reportedly
can read the content of email and other Internet traffic. It can also
intercept threatening Internet traffic before it reaches a government
system, thanks to technology based on a similar program used by the NSA.

"Many privacy concerns involving Einstein 2 still haven't been
answered," said CDT President and CEO Leslie Harris. "The deployment of
Einstein 3, with its ability to actually read the content of email and
other Internet traffic, significantly raises privacy risks for
Americans," Harris said. "Who is watching the system to ensure that it
examines only communications with the government?"

The CDT report lists more than 30 pointed questions that the
Administration should answer about the deployment and operation of
Einstein system, from who designed it to what protections are in place
to ensure Internet traffic between private parties isn't monitored to
what kinds of personally identifiable information will Einstein collect.

"This report calls for the release of any legal opinions about the
Einstein system," said CDT Senior Counsel Gregory T. Nojeim. "We saw
how secrecy in the last Administration shielded widespread violation of
civil liberties," Nojeim said. "We're trying to make sure that
cybersecurity efforts of the new Administration don't retrace the same
dangerous path."

The full report can be found online here.

The Center for Democracy and Technology works to promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT seeks practical solutions to enhance free expression and privacy in global communications technologies. CDT is dedicated to building consensus among all parties interested in the future of the Internet and other new communications media.