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Federal Government Information Technology - Electronic Surveillance and Civil Liberties

NCJ Number
Date Published
74 pages
This report examines public policy on the use of information technology and electronic communication to monitor individual movements, actions, and communications, with a focus on potential conflicts between investigative law enforcement and civil liberty interest.
It looks at the inadequacy of the existing statutory framework in dealing with technological developments in five major categories of surveillance devices: radiating and nonradiating electronic eavesdropping devices and receivers; optical and imaging techniques for visual surveillance (such as television, night vision devices, and satellites); computer and related technologies, including computer networks, pattern recognition systems, and distributed processing; sensor devices (magnetic, seismic, infrared, strain, and electromagnetic); and others (such as polygraphs, cellular radios, vehicle location systems, voice stress analyzers, and voice recognition systems). Current and prospective Federal agency use of these surveillance technologies is discussed, as is the interaction of technology and public law. Policy analyses consider options for congressional actions aimed at eliminating gaps and ambiguities in current law, including proposed legislation on surveilance and civil liberties such as the 1985 Electronic Communications Privacy and the Video Surveillance Acts. Tabular data and chapter summaries are provided.