In mid-1999, a draft Administration proposal surfaced that described a
computer network monitoring system called the Federal Intrusion Detection
Network (FIDNet). The plan to monitor federal executive branch computer
systems for intrusion went a crucial step further than it needed to. The
draft FIDNet proposal revealed that, "the Plan also calls for the creation
of a three pillar system of these netted and adaptive intrusion detection
networks, covering critical government and (ultimately) private sector
information systems" (emphasis added). Information gathered by FIDNet was to be collected by the FBI.
Whatever benefits there might be from federal monitoring of private computer networks are far outweighed by the threat to privacy from government snooping. Government monitoring of private computer networks without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed probably also violates the Fourth Amendment.
While the FIDNet proposal withered when exposed to light, it showed the proclivity of well-meaning federal crime-fighters to overstep their bounds and treat all Internet activity as suspect. This threatens the privacy of innocent, law-abiding Americans in ways that are unacceptable to our traditions and Constitution.
Computer Network Monitoring Letter from Majority Leader Dick Armey to Attorney General Janet Reno (July 30, 1999)