Big Brother

FDA Monitored Whistleblowers' Emails

The Food and Drug Administration intercepted the private emails of nine employees and took screenshots of their desktops after the scientists raised concerns that the FDA was improperly approving dangerous cancer devices. In a suit filed this week, the scientists say they were then fired or harassed until they left. The scientists wrote a letter to President Obama's transition team in 2009, and also to Congress, alleging corruption in the FDA. The letter got some media attention, and the maker of one of the dubious devices complained to the FDA that business secrets had been revealed. Shortly afterward, court documents show, the FDA started monitoring their computer activity, and soon after that the scientists were pushed out. It's not clear whether the monitoring itself is illegal, because FDA computers show a warning when users log on, saying they should have “no reasonable expectation of privacy.”