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March 26, 1995

* Stewart Baker, former general counsel at the National Security Agency, waves his finger overseas and warns of new efforts by foreign governments to restrict the free flow of information ("The Spider in the 'Web': Censorship," Commentary, March 5). Give us a break.

During Baker's tenure, the NSA backed the biggest obstacle to free-flow on the Internet to date, the agency's own clipper chip. That proposal, if left unopposed, could have shut down private communications on the Internet.

The NSA also defended outdated export controls even as American companies were arguing that such barriers to trade were injuring American business. The reason? So the NSA could continue to intercept communications in foreign countries.

The NSA even lobbied for a bill to give the U.S. government new ability to wiretap private communications over the objections of civil liberties organizations and probably in violation of the agency's own charter.

Now the Europeans are trying to put some force into their privacy laws--a step our country should have taken a long time ago--and Baker cries foul.

If the "free flow of information" is now code for helping the National Security Agency monitor private communications, it is time to reconsider our national priorities.

MARC ROTENBERG, Director

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Washington

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