Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Too Much Information?


Too Much Information?

Web Site Raises Questions About Public Access to Sensitive Government Info

By JakeTapper

Aug. 12, 2004 John Young, a 69-year-old architect, was contacted a few weeks ago by Department of Homeland Security officials, who expressed concern about what he was posting on his Web site.


Officials questioned Young about information he had posted about the 2004 Democratic National Convention, including satellite photos of the convention site and the location of specific police barricades referred to on the site as "a complete joke."

In response to a complaint, two special agents from the FBI's counterterrorism office in New York City interviewed Young in November 2003.

"They said, 'Why didn't you call us about this? Why are you telling the public?' And we said, 'Because it's out there and you can see it. You folks weren't doing anything,' " Young told ABC News.

The agents, according to Young, stressed they knew that nothing on the site was illegal. Young added: "They said, 'What we'd like you to do, if you're approached by anyone that you think intends to harm the United States, we're asking you to let us know that.' "

"I know there are a lot of people in the government who find him troublesome," said former White House terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant. "There is a real tension here between the public's right to know and civil liberties, on the one hand, and security on the other."

But Young argues his actions enhance national security, since he points out to the public vulnerabilities the government does not want to acknowledge.


When asked how he would respond to those who consider his Web site unpatriotic since it could provide useful information for those who seek to harm the United States, Young said, "If this is not done, more Americans are going to die. More harm is going to come to the United States. It is more patriotic to get information out than to withhold it."

Officials acknowledge there is not much they can do; Young has not broken any laws.

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