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updated 9/18/2009 7:27:37 PM ET 2009-09-18T23:27:37

The Justice Department has concluded that a beefed-up surveillance program that monitors federal employees' Internet traffic does not violate their rights or those of private citizens who communicate with them.

But the review of the Einstein 2 program was limited and leaves important questions unanswered, said the vice president of an Internet freedom watchdog group.

Einstein 2 is a second-generation automated program designed to detect cyber attacks on government computer networks.

The review, completed last month and released Friday, said the system addresses potential privacy concerns by warning employees when they log in that their communications may be monitored.

Such warnings "eliminate federal employees' legitimate expectations of privacy" on government computers, acting Assistant Attorney General David J. Barron wrote.

The review reaches the same conclusion as a study undertaken by the Justice Department during the Bush administration.

Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said his group agrees with the report's conclusion, as far as it goes.

"If you send an e-mail to the government, you can't complain that they read it," Dempsey said, after reviewing the two reports.

But the memos do not address how Einstein works in practice, including whether it also monitors communications between private parties and if so, what it does with any information it collects, Dempsey said.

"Those questions haven't been fully answered and they deserve to be," he said.

The memos also do not deal with the next-generation program, Einstein 3, which is intended to both detect and stop cyber attacks against government computers.

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