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USA PATRIOT madness
Posted: 2003-04-10 13:26
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: Stuff

As I mentioned yesterday, some Republicans in the Senate are seeking to have some of the temporary powers of the USA PATRIOT Act made permanent.

The powers in question here are only related to surveillence, and not the other broad powers of the act. Specifically, Title II of the act (with the exceptions of sections 203(a), 203(b), 205, 208, 210, 211, 213, 216, 219, 221, and 222) would expire in 2005. Not that much of a gain, as the exceptions cover nearly half of that single title (the whole act consists of 10 titles, but it's a small step nonetheless.

This change is slated to be added to a bill by Senators Jon Kyl (R, AZ) and Charles Schumer (D, NY) that would increase leniancy in investigations of 'lone wolf' terrorist groups. Senate Democrats may propose an amendment to that bill which would increase restrictions on obtaining secret warrants, and as a counter, Republicans have threatened to propose this as an amendment.

The Justice Department is defending the proposal, stating that is has "allowed the FBI to move faster and more flexibly to disrupt terrorists before they strike"1 and they "don't want that to expire," despite that fact that the law specifically says these provisions will 'sunset' in 2005. Of course, seeing the government disregarding it's own laws wouldn't come as a surprise to me, since the USA PATRIOT Act itself clearly violates several Constitutional requirements of law enforcement.

Librarians are beginning to show their distaste for the act, by shredding records so the FBI cannot gain access to them. Along with posting warnings about the possibilities, librarians are finally taking a stand against the act. Hopefully, this will stir up more public awareness of just what the act is, and why it's a bad thing.

The USA PATRIOT Act isn't the major law in the news lately, as the DMCA has once again reared it's ugly head. The case of Edelman v N2H2 was recently heard and decided on. N2H2 is a company that writes, sells and maintains a piece of Internet filtering software. The list of filtered sites is encrypted, and Ben Edelman wanted to be able to break the encryption to view the sites on that list. This practice violates the DMCA, as it circumvents an access control technology. The lawsuit here was brought by Mr. Edelman, seeking immunity from a lawsuit by N2H2. The case was heard on Mar. 31, and on April 7, N2H2's motion to dismiss was granted. Judge Sterns wrote that "[t]here is no plausibly protected constitutional interest that ... outweighs N2H2's right to protect its copyrighted property from an invasive and destructive trespass." This decision is a disappointment, though no entirely unexpected, given that the judge was almost hostile to Edelman's side (argued by the ACLU).

In random site news, the new pictures/images section is open, though so far it only contains my photos from 2001-09-11.





SFGate, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/04/09/MN257910.DTL


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