New technologies could be used to improve internet security but the impact of those technologies on personal privacy is classified information, the director of the National Security Agency told Congress last week.
“How could the Internet be designed differently to provide much greater inherent security?” the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Lt. General Keith Alexander, who has been nominated to lead the new U.S. Cyber Command.
“The design of the Internet is – and will continue to evolve – based on technological advancements. These new technologies will enhance mobility and, if properly implemented, security,” replied Gen. Alexander in his written answers (pdf) in advance of an April 15 Committee hearing.
“What would the impact be on privacy, both pro and con?” the Committee continued.
The answer to that question was “provided in the classified supplement” to the General’s response, and was not made public (see question 27).
“It is astounding that Lt. Gen. Alexander’s remarks on the impact on privacy of future modifications to the Internet under his command should be withheld from the public,” wrote Jared Kaprove and John Verdi of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), especially given the President’s declared commitment to upholding privacy protection in the nation’s cybersecurity policy.
Consequently, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking disclosure of the classified supplement to General Alexander’s answers. “There is a clear public interest in making known the Director’s views on this critical topic,” EPIC wrote in its request (pdf).