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Computer Crime and
Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS)†

Privacy Issues in the High-tech Context

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  1. Law Enforcement Concerns Related to Computerized Data Bases
  2. Enforcing the Criminal Wiretap Statute
  3. Referring Potential Privacy Violations to the Department of Justice for Investigation and Prosecution
  4. Testimony on Digital Privacy

A. Law Enforcement Concerns Related to Computerized Data Bases
The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice submitted comments in response to the request of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") for comments on its workshop on Consumer Information Privacy and its Data Base Study. The Department is deeply concerned about the safety and security of American citizens. The Department is vigilant to take appropriate measures to guard their privacy while using all the resources at its disposal, including information resources, to investigate and prosecute violations of the federal criminal law. The comments are available via the link below:
  • CCIPS comments as submitted to the FTC workshop on Consumer Information Privacy and Data Base Study
B. Enforcing the Criminal Wiretap Statute
The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section helps to protect the privacy of Americans by enforcing the criminal wiretap statute, 18 U.S.C. ß 2511. One well-publicized interception involved a conference call in which the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich participated. The couple that intercepted the call pleaded guilty on April 25, 1997, as is described in the press release below.
  • Couple enters guilty plea for wireless interception of Gingrich conference call
On September 8, 1998, a Sheriff in North Carolina pled guilty today to wiretapping and recording a high school teacher's telephone calls, which the Sheriff intended to use to force the teacher out of his job. More information regarding this prosecution is available via the following link:
  • North Carolina Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Illegal Wiretapping High School Teacher's Phone Calls
C. Referring Potential Privacy Violations to the Department of Justice for Investigation and Prosecution
Recently, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a memo to the Inspector General community encouraging them to refer potential violations of federal privacy statutes to the Department of Justice for investigation and prosecution.† The letter provides an overview of federal privacy laws, including the Privacy Act, and explains the sentencing guidelines associated with particular violations.† The letter further directs that all suspected 1030(a)(2) offenses should be referred to the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.
  • Memo from Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder to Inspectors General Directing Them to Refer Potential Violations of Federal Privacy Statutes to the Department of Justice for Investigation and Prosectution (October 18, 1999)
D.† Testimony on Digital Privacy
On April 6, 2000, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kevin V. Di Gregory testified before the† Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Committee on the Judiciary on the subject of the Fourth Amendment and the Internet.† His testimony detailed the ways in which the Fourth Amendment protects the privacy of Internet users.† Also covered were the new technical challenges that face law enforcement and possible solutions for overcoming these challenges.
  • Testimony of Kevin V. Di Gregory, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, on the Fourth Amendment and the Internet before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Committee on the Judiciary (April 6, 2000)

On March 27, 2000, John T. Bentivoglio, Special Counsel for Health Care Fraud and Chief Privacy Officer at the U.S. Department of Justice, gave remarks on the prosecution of health care fraud and the protection of health care privacy on the Internet. His speech focused on the Federal government's fraud, consumer protection, and privacy protection efforts as they relate to the Internet healthcare industry.

  • Remarks of John T. Bentivoglio, Special Counsel for Health Care Fraud and Chief Privacy Officer, U.S. Department of Justice, at the Symposium on Healthcare Internet and E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory and Ethical Issues (March 27, 2000)
On May 27, 1999, the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the Judiciary Committee, United States House of Representatives convened a hearing on medical records privacy.† John T. Bentivoglio, the Justice Departmentís Chief Privacy Officer, testified before the committee on the subject of digital privacy in general.† The testimony outlines the Departmentís privacy initiatives, including the work of the Privacy Council and comments on industry-led privacy safeguarding measures.† The testimony also addresses problems that result from failures to protect privacy, from Internet fraud to identity theft.† The testimony is linked below.
  • Testimony of John T. Bentivoglio, Special Counsel for Health Care Fraud and Chief Privacy Officer Before the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the Judiciary Committee, United States House of Representatives Concerning Medical Records Privacy (May 27, 1999)

†Go to . . . CCIPS home page || Justice Department home page


Updated page April 24, 2000
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