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U.S. authorities improperly obtain citizen's personal information
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10:53, March 13, 2008

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A report released on Thursday by the Information Office of China's State Council said the U.S. authorities infringed upon citizen's privacy by improperly obtaining their personal information.

"The rights of individual citizens are being increasingly marginalized in the United States," said the report entitled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007."

Statistics show that the U.S. government's illegal dragnet electronic surveillance has put sensitive personal information from millions of people at risk, the report said.

A total of 477 breaches into government databases were found in 2006 alone. More than 162 million records were reported lost or stolen in 2007, triple the 49.7 million that went missing in 2006, it added.

The FBI improperly obtained personal information on more than 52,000 people without court oversight through the use of national security letters (NSLs) from 2003 to 2005, the report said, citing figures from the Washington Post.

According to Verizon Communications, the second largest telecom company in the United States, the FBI sought information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called.

From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon provided data to federal authorities "on an emergency basis" 720 times. The records included Internet protocol addresses as well as phone data. In that period, Verizon turned over information a total of 94,000 times to federal authorities armed with a subpoena or court order, the company was quoted by the report as saying.

In August 2007, the United States' National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell revealed that fewer than 100 people inside the United States are monitored under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. However, he said, thousands of people overseas are monitored.

The report also cited the Washington Post as saying that the FBI is embarking on a 1 billion U.S. dollars effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, called Next Generation Identification.

The project would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.

Source: Xinhua

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