Back to the future on government Internet surveillance
publication date: May 7, 2010
The following article was published in 2004. The situation has become much worse some six years later:
EMAIL BLOCKING THROUGH CENSORWARE
By Wayne Madsen
U.S. intelligence agency officials, speaking on background, are reporting that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are intercepting and blocking email from and to selected individuals and organizations within the United States and around the world. Through the use of the same type of web filtering "censorware" employed by state security organizations in China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, DHS and the FBI have entered into agreements with major Internet Service Providers to intercept and block email for "national security" purposes.
Most affected by this blockage are journalists, attorneys, politicians, political activists, and members of the U.S. military serving abroad, especially in Iraq.
Examples of such Internet interference include a Washington, DC-based attorney who handles immigration and national security cases. He was informed by an America On Line (AOL) technician that a "national security" block had been placed on his email account.
Another attorney, handling a major international war crimes case, maintained that email to and from prospective witnesses was routinely blocked.
A senior officer of the National Security Agency (NSA) reported that his personal email was routinely blocked by his ISP.
A Democratic member of the U.S. Congress said it was necessary to change Internet Service Providers three times because of blocked email.
U.S. military personnel in Iraq routinely report that their attempts to access certain web sites are blocked by firewalls and filtering software installed by their military commands. If a web site is considered too politically extreme by the Pentagon, military users are greeted with the following message:
Access Denied (content_filter_denied)
Your request was denied because of its content categorization: "Extreme;Politics/Religion"
For assistance, contact your network support team.
The ISPs claim that problems with email are the result of their anti-spamming countermeasures and not U.S. government-directed censorship.
Now, in 2010, of course, we have Cass Sunstein, the head of the White House Office of Information Regulatory Affairs, pushing Internet censorship and control as a matter of Obama administration policy. The editor noticed said Mr. Sunstein on Wednesday night on a downtown Washington street. He is as creepy in person as he is in his written pronouncements.