Date: April 16, 2003
Marc Rotenberg
202-483-1140 x106



WASHINGTON - The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a leading privacy research and advocacy organization, kept the Privacy Threat Index unchanged, even as the federal government reduced the threat level for the Homeland Security Advisory System.

EPIC established the Privacy Threat Index earlier this week at the annual RSA Conference to help the public understand the current threats to personal privacy.

The EPIC announcement comes as the White House has said that it would reduce the threat level from orange or "high" to yellow or "elevated."

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of EPIC, said that the decision to leave the Privacy Threat Index unchanged was based on the fact that there had been no changes in the level of government monitoring and surveillance in the United States.

"We continue to follow developments in Congress and with the Administration to assess current threats to privacy," Rotenberg said.

"We could anticipate reducing the Privacy Threat Index when steps are taken to safeguard privacy, but at the moment it seems more likely that the Privacy Threat Index would be raised."

The White House also announced today that it would like to expand the FBI's national DNA database and include juvenile offenders and adults who have been arrested but not convicted. Currently, only the DNA of adult criminals are routinely stored in the FBI DNA database.

Mr. Rotenberg said it would become increasingly important to focus public attention on the privacy consequences of the response to terrorism and the dramatic expansion of the government's surveillance authority.

"The Privacy Threat Index is a critical measure of the protection of civil liberties in the United States," said Rotenberg.

Web sites are encouraged to link to the EPIC Privacy Threat Index. Insert the following HTML code where the graphic should appear:

<A HREF="http://www.epic.org/"><IMG SRC="http://www.epic.org/graphics/threat_index.gif" alt="EPIC Privacy Threat Index"></A>

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, freedom of expression and constitutional values. EPIC pursues a wide range of activities, including policy research, public education, conferences, litigation, publications, and advocacy.

EPIC publishes an annual survey on privacy laws and developments around the world. The EPIC 2002 Privacy and Human Rights survey reported on developments in more than sixty countries. The 2003 report will be released at the fall at the National Press Club in Washington DC and will incorporate the Privacy Threat Index.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

EPIC, Privacy Threat Index

EPIC, Privacy and Human Rights 2002

Department of Homeland Security, "Homeland Security Advsiory System"