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Office of Technology Assessment, Electronic Surveillance and Civil Liberties (Oct. 1985) (full-text).


The primary focus of this report is on technological developments in the basic communication and information infrastructure of the United States that present new or changed opportunities for and vulnerabilities to electronic surveillance, not on the details of specific surveillance devices. The primary policy focus is on domestic law enforcement and investigative applications, not on foreign intelligence and counterintelligence applications.

The report addresses four major areas:

  1. technological developments relevant to electronic surveillance;
  2. current and prospective Federal agency use of surveillance technologies;
  3. the interaction of technology and public law in the area of electronic surveillance, with special attention to the balancing of civil liberty and investigative interests; and
  4. policy options that warrant congressional consideration, including the amendment of existing public law to eliminate gaps and ambiguities in current legal protections.