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1/18/2008
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National Intelligence Director Wants To Monitor All Net Communications

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has developed a policy to monitor the Internet, but President Bush has not announced it yet.

The federal government should be able to read all communications on the Internet, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said during a New Yorker interview.

Lawrence Wright, who interviewed McConnell for a piece in this week's issue, said that McConnell has developed a cyber security policy that would include such a provision, but President George W. Bush has not announced it yet.

The New Yorker's Web site features a podcast in which Wright is interviewed and summarizes McConnell's views on the issue, as well as other intelligence matters.

"He's come up with a cyber security policy that the President has not announced yet but it would in many ways revolutionize the relationship between government and industry and also with American citizens," Wright said. "Every bit of information throughout the Internet could be monitored by the government. This is going to be a very thorny development."

Wright said that such a policy would require Americans to give up the presumption of privacy, but it may be the only way to protect transportation, security, and other critical systems that rely on the Internet.

"One of McConnell's passions is the security of information systems," he said. "We live in a world of an open Internet, and we all depend on that, but the openness of it is also what makes it so fragile and vulnerable to attack, to manipulation and destruction by a sinister force."

Wright also talked about a growing security threat in light of recent news reports indicating that hackers from the Chinese Army infiltrated German government systems, as well as gaining access to information from the Pentagon.

He also indicated that McConnell is trying to develop a Wikipedia-style platform to help intelligence agencies share information.

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