Some people uneasy about FBI powers

Friday, May 31, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Who's keeping tabs on your Internet chat? Who's in the next pew or on the next prayer rug? Who's got their eye on you at the library?

Could be the FBI, under rules announced Thursday that give agents more leeway in domestic spying just about anywhere that people congregate publicly -- including cyberspace.

That makes some people uneasy, but others say law-abiding citizens have no reason to fear, reflecting the ambivalence many people have felt since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"That's a difficult one," said Mo Bey, pondering the new FBI guidelines before heading into the Islamic Center of Washington for prayers. "I don't think that citizens should be violated because of their religious affiliations. But Americans need to be attentive to terrorist movements."

Librarians, Internet surfers and other people expressed similar feelings of disquiet about someone monitoring them -- even if their activity is right out in public. "The march to a police state goes on," complained one person.

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