Nearly All Federal Agencies Monitor Workers' Computers

One monitoring program can track 'every activity, in complete detail'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2012 8:56 AM CDT
Nearly All Federal Agencies Monitor Workers' Computers
The heightened monitoring follows WikiLeaks' leaks.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Government leaks—Wiki and otherwise—have inspired heightened monitoring of federal workers' computers, and the practice has privacy advocates worried. Nearly every government branch electronically monitors its employees, according to industry insiders; one program frequently purchased by agencies promises to reveal "every activity, in complete detail." It can snag files from hard drives or reveal workers' keystrokes. Protecting data cost nonintelligence agencies $5.6 billion last year, compared to $4.7 billion the year before, though not all of that money went to monitoring federal workers, the Washington Post notes.

Even workers' personal gadgets may be subject to tracking. In general, "if a personal device accesses any agency information, it adopts the profile of a government-issued device," says a rep for a web-filtering software company. Officials say they're selective about what they view—but it's up to them what they investigate. And "how do you distinguish between a constitutionally protected contact with the press and an illegal leak?" asks a lawyer for scientists suing the FDA over email monitoring. Head to the Post for the full piece. (Read more federal employees stories.)

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