New ACLU Advertisement Highlights Massive U.S. Government Electronic Surveillance

April 9, 2001 12:00 am

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Monday, April 9, 2001

NEW YORK–From using a cell phone to sending e-mail over the Internet, Americans’ right to information privacy is in peril, the American Civil Liberties Union said today in its latest national advertisement.

The ad, appearing in the April 15 issue of The New Yorker and the April 16 issue of The New York Times Magazine, features a large photo of a cell phone, with the headline: “Now equipped with 3-way calling. You, whoever you’re dialing, and the government.”

,” said Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Through this advertisement, the ACLU hopes to increase awareness of the privacy threat and mobilize our lawmakers into action.”

The advertisement urges readers to visit a special ACLU website

[] to learn more about these invasions of privacy rights and to send a free fax message urging their Members of Congress to stop the use of Carnivore and to hold hearings on the secretive Echelon program.

According to the ACLU ad, five nations (the U.S., England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) are members of a spy network — dubbed Echelon — that aims to intercept virtually all forms of electronic communications. Its purpose: worldwide surveillance, not just of other intelligence agencies, but of civilians.

Meanwhile, through the FBI’s Internet wiretap system, dubbed “Carnivore,” U.S. Internet service providers are forced to attached a black box directly to their networks — a powerful computer through which much of their customers’ communications may flow.

“Congress must cage Carnivore and determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported,” said Gregory T. Nojeim, Associate Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office. “Congress must ensure that our government does not intercept Americans’ conversations without a court order. That is why the ACLU has called upon Congress to embark on a national legislative program to shore up the information privacy rights of this and future generations.”

The creative minds behind the ad series, DeVito/Verdi Advertising, also developed last year’s ACLU advertising series, which included messages on racial profiling, juvenile justice and the death penalty.

The ACLU advertising campaign will be featured on the organization’s website,, with links to relevant documents and news about each issue. The next advertisement, on the subject of asset forfeiture — police seizure of innocent people’s private property — is scheduled to run in the April 29 issue of The New York Times Magazine and in the May 7 issue of The New Yorker.

The ACLU is a nationwide, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the Bill of Rights for all individuals through litigation, legislation and public education.

Headquartered in New York City, the ACLU has 53 staffed affiliates that cover every state, more than 300 chapters nationwide, and a legislative office in Washington, DC. The bulk of the annual $40 million budget is raised by contributions from members — 275,000 strong — and gifts and grants from other individuals and foundations.

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