(15) From the beginning FIDNET
generated controversy both inside and outside the government.
A civil liberties group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has told a US Senate panel that the Clinton administration's FIDNET proposal for 'information systems protection' will result in increased surveillance and privacy violations in the US and should be withdrawn.
US law enforcement representatives, however, say that the privacy problems of FIDNET and similar government efforts have been exaggerated and that FIDNET is only intended to protect information on critical, civilian government computer systems.
Congressional concern, however, is not so much over potential incursions of civil liberties as over who will pay for FIDNET
, what it will cost and whether the government could in fact do without it.
What is the precise justification offered for the Fidnet project?
Both the scope of the project and the scope of the problem it purports to address are so sufficiently vague that civil liberties groups protested the Fidnet proposal and tipped off' the Times about it, arguing that it could create an infrastructure for widespread governmental snooping on private computers.
On November 9th, ACM, the Stanford Law School's Program in Law, Science and Technology, and the Stanford Computer Science Department co-hosted a panel that discussed the implications of the proposed FIDNet and the general issue of the government's role in computer surveillance.
Q: What was the impetus for establishing a special panel on FIDNET?
Director of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office John Tritak told Reuters that President Clinton has not yet approved the FIDNET
"Basically, FIDNET is a 'netted' intrusion detection monitoring system for non-DoD government computers," explains the CDT's Jim Dempsey.
But the draft doesn't specify what kind of data FIDNET would collect or which government or corporate networks it would monitor.
Although not specifically identified in the Directive, the Clinton Administration proposed establishing a Federal Instruction Detection Network (FIDNET
), that would, together with the Federal Computer Intrusion Response Capability (FedCIRC) effort begun just prior to PDD-63, meet this goal.