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I Spy With My Little Software Package

The US Food and Drug Administration has allegedly been conducting surveillance on some of its scientists to rein in criticism of the agency's medical device review process, reports The New York Times. The Times says the effort began as an investigation of five scientists who were thought to be leaking confidential information about medical device safety and grew into a program that tracked emails those agency scientists sent to lawmakers, journalists, and others. FDA used a commercially available spy software package to capture the scientists' keystrokes and screen images as well as to copy documents. While federal agencies may monitor employees' computer use, the Times notes that FDA may have gathered confidential communications, like those between lawyers and clients as well as whistleblower complaints. The Times adds that FDA has developed a list of people thought to working to put out negative information about the agency. The agency says its action was limited to the five scientists thought to be leaking information. FDA adds that while it did track communications, it was only to see whether those scientists were sharing information improperly.

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