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by CSO Contributor

National Security Advisor Testifies before 9/11 Panel; Report: Hurdles Remain to FBIs Intelligence Reform; Googles Gmail Raises Privacy Concerns

Apr 08, 20043 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

National Security Advisor Testifies before 9/11 Panel

President Bush understood the deadly threat posed by Al Qaeda terrorists from his very first days in office, the president’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, testified today. The New York Times carries streaming video of her testimony. The Times reports that she said if anything might have aborted the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, blasted a hole in the Pentagon and killed some 3,000 people, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States. But finding such information was difficult because of “structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” she said. Report: Hurdles Remain to FBIs Intelligence ReformUSA Today story, the groups report, made public yesterday, said the FBI has increased intelligence operations, centralized control of national security cases at FBI headquarters and enhanced recruitment and training of analysts since the attacks. The story outlines some of the options for the Bureaus future, and their potential results. Maureen Baginski, the FBI’s chief of intelligence, said it would be difficult for a new domestic intelligence agency to duplicate the FBI’s manpower and ability to collect information. She noted that state and local authorities also are key intelligence collectors with whom the FBI has a long-established relationship.

The FBI has taken steps to address shortcomings apparent after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but that questions remain about its ability to transform itself into an effective domestic intelligence agency geared to prevent terrorism, concludes a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. According to a

Googles Gmail Raises Privacy, a coalition of 28 privacy and civil liberties groups wrote Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page a letter Tuesday urging them to think again about the copmanys proposed Web-based e-mail service, which they said sets potentially dangerous precedents for the automated scanning of private communications. The service may conflict with European privacy laws, and should be suspended until privacy issues are addressed, they wrote. When Google announced the Gmail service on March 31, the company said it will scan the text of all incoming e-mail in order to place appropriate advertisements. Besides scanning the contents (but not the To or From fields) of each e-mail, Gmail will offer users a gigabyte of online storage, so that they will never need to delete another message. Indeed, the Gmail privacy policy warns that messages, even if “deleted,” may still be stored in the system long after users have closed their account. That that bothers the privacy campaigners, who say the unlimited period for data retention poses unnecessary risks of misuse, and that Google’s policies on retaining data and correlating it between business units are problematic, lacking clarity and being too broad in scope.

According to an IDG News Service story on