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Senate OKs use of Carnivore against terrorism

By Prominairy in News
Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 04:49:05 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

    On Thursday, September 13., the U.S. Senate approved of bill H.R. 2500, which would give the FBI more power in combatting crime, not just terrorism, via wiretapping and electronic monitoring.

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IDG reports:
In response to Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the U.S. Senate Thursday approved expanding the permissible uses of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Carnivore e-mail surveillance system to include investigating acts of terrorism and computer crimes. The measure would also allow broader use of Internet tapping by law enforcement authorities and calls on the government to "make better use of its considerable accomplishments in science and technology" to combat terrorism.

Wired reports:
The measure, proposed by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), says any U.S. attorney or state attorney general can order the installation of the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system. Previously, there were stiffer restrictions on Carnivore and other Internet surveillance techniques.

    Carnivore is a computer software for intercepting and monitoring Internet communications, which is installed at ISP level.
    Earlier this week there were also concerns raised on the question of cryptography, as Sen. Judd Gregg called for a global prohibition on encryption products without backdoors for government surveillance, as reported by Wired.


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Senate OKs use of Carnivore against terrorism | 8 comments (7 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Decrease the worrying (4.00 / 4) (#1)
by jasonab on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 01:14:26 PM EST

You should also have quoted the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (from the Wired article):
During Thursday's floor debate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Judiciary committee, suggested that the bill went far beyond merely thwarting terrorism and could endanger Americans' privacy. He also said he had a chance to read the Combating Terrorism Act just 30 minutes before the floor debate began.

"Maybe the Senate wants to just go ahead and adopt new abilities to wiretap our citizens," Leahy said. "Maybe they want to adopt new abilities to go into people's computers. Maybe that will make us feel safer. Maybe. And maybe what the terrorists have done made us a little bit less safe. Maybe they have increased Big Brother in this country."

The forces of privacy are not without their allies.

mr. leahy then proceeded to vote for the bill (4.00 / 3) (#3)
by sayke on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 03:31:41 PM EST

it sucks, but it's true. the bill passed unconstested. leahy voiced an objection, but didn't act on it.

sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

It's difficult (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by svampa on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 05:24:16 PM EST

I think that nowadays, it is difficult for anyone in USA to act against any messure labled with "good against terrorism"

[ Parent ]
Nothing worth doing is ever easy (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by warpeightbot on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 11:43:17 AM EST

I think that nowadays, it is difficult for anyone in USA to act against any messure labled with "good against terrorism"
Perhaps. But whoever said the defense of liberty was easy is selling something: your freedom, and for cheap.

Now is the time, above all others, to say loudly, forcefully, and to whoever will listen, that those suicidal maniacs had as their express intent the destruction of our way of life, our freedom, and that to place any restriction on same that is not absolutely necessary is giving aid and comfort to our enemies. For those who don't remember (or were never taught), that, my friends, is one of the Constitutional definitions of treason.

I know what you're thinking. He's a flaming radical. Yeah? So was Thomas Jefferson. So was John Adams. You see where they got us?

Time to burn some treeware, folks. Get them to listen. And be prepared to do more.

[ Parent ]

Deliberative House (4.66 / 3) (#5)
by Osiris on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 06:23:44 PM EST

I'm most disturbed that these measures are coming out of the Senate. The bicameral system was set up in its fashion on purpose to prevent EXACTLY this kind of thing.

The House of Representatives is on a two-year election cycle, 100% up for election, in order to make the House be more responsive to the people of the US. They are expected to closely model the views of the country at any moment.

The Senate uses 6-year terms, and originally weren't even popularly elected, to make them be a more stable body. This was to be the deliberative, steady house. Even the rules of the house reflect this- all senators get a say, with filibustering very possible, and typically uncapped debate. They are on a 1/3 up-for-election cycle so that even a vast mood swing in the country couldn't change the makeup of the entire body at one go. There was even a higher age requirement for this house, reflecting a desire for more mature, developed people to populate it.

In our modern age of directly-elected Senators, instant opinion polls, and grandstanding for the media, the Senate feels the same pressure to reacty hotly as the House does. Now we have two hotblooded houses instead of one. Even the fact that they presently have different parties in majority (and in recent history are often of different majority than the executive branch) doesn't make a whit of difference now. That's scary.

So how does this help? (none / 0) (#7)
by epcraig on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 03:23:52 PM EST

I'm trying to understand how this legialation helps prevent aviation "students" with box cutters from turning hijacked passenger planes into bombs.

This act is going to be expensive and strengthen monopolies at the expense of internet users and the internet itself.
There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

The letter I sent to my representatives (none / 0) (#8)
by pfaffben on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 10:15:17 PM EST

As a registered voter in your district, I am writing to you regarding the disaster that so suddenly focused our nation's attention this past Sept. 11. The most important work in the aftermath of this terrible attack is to care for the survivors and mourn for the departed, and furthermore to track down and punish those responsible for the attack. I encourage any efforts along these lines. However, I am also concerned about other issues.

In particular, I wish to draw to your attention to the potential for unnecessary legislative assault on personal freedom in the United States in the coming weeks and months. There is the worrisome possibility that new laws will be passed and signed in the name of national security, applying less than a prudent or usual amount of scrutiny to negative effects. Historically, such laws have proven difficult to repeal, making their passage even less desirable.

An example lies in the misguided call for a ban on the use of encryption for electronic mail, because terrorist Osama bin Laden is known to make use of encryption. Proponents of such a ban obviously mean well, intending to make it more difficult for terrorists to communicate. They do not understand that such software is freely available from many sources throughout the world, not just within the United States, so a ban would have no practical effect on availability of encryption, and even if bin Laden were prevented from using encryption, his organization would have many other options for secure communication.

In addition, encryption has many legitimate uses. Electronic mail sent unencrypted is easily read and intercepted by a third party without the knowledge of sender or recipient, in the same way that information written on a postcard can be read as it passes through the postal system. Encryption is the only practical way for ordinary citizens to provide basic security against tampering that a simple paper envelope provides for paper mail. This in itself is enough reason to allow and even promote the use of encryption, but there are many other positive uses, as illustrated in books such as Schneier's Applied Cryptography.

In summary, I encourage you now in this time of crisis to consider bills on their merits and pay close scrutiny to negative effects on individual liberty, in the careful same way that you would do so at any other time. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by hysterical (but understandable) reactions to the magnitude of the present disaster. As Benjamin Franklin once said, ``They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.'' When the safety in question is in fact illusory, this adage is even more applicable.


Ben Pfaff.

Senate OKs use of Carnivore against terrorism | 8 comments (7 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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