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The Courts

Congress Tries To Strip Power From Anti-Wiretap Judge 332

palegray.net writes "Congress is attempting to strip US District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of his power following his ruling against the government regarding immunity for telecoms in the NSA wiretapping case. Walker was appointed to the bench by President Bush, and has attempted to enforce existing prohibitions against warrantless wiretapping. From the Wired article: 'Walker, the chief judge of the Northern District of California, affirmed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the exclusive legal method for conducting surveillance inside the United States against suspected spies and [terrorists]. The Bush Administration argues that Congress's vote to authorize military force against Al Qaeda and the president's inherent war time powers were exceptions to the exclusivity provision.' The article makes the observation that Congress seems to be having difficulties bringing itself to enforce the laws that it has previously passed regarding wiretapping, and seems more interesting in silencing opposing viewpoints." Update: 07/06 16:15 GMT by SS: As several readers have noted, the vote would only limit Judge Walker with respect to this particular case. His other responsibilities would be unaffected.
The Military

Air Force Aims for Control of 'Any and All' Computers 468

Noah Shachtman on Wired.com's Danger Room reports that Monday, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB introduced a two-year, $11 million effort to put together hardware and software tools for 'Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement.' 'Of interest are any and all techniques to enable user and/or root level access,' a request for proposals notes, 'to both fixed (PC) or mobile computing platforms ... any and all operating systems, patch levels, applications and hardware.' This isn't just some computer science study, mind you; 'research efforts under this program are expected to result in complete functional capabilities.' The Air Force has already announced their desire to manage an offensive BotNet, comprised of unwitting participatory computers. How long before they slip a root kit on you?

Administration Claimed Immunity To 4th Amendment 703

mrogers writes "The EFF has uncovered a troubling footnote in a newly declassified Bush Administration memo, which asserts that 'our Office recently [in 2001] concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.' This could mean that the Administration believes the NSA's warrantless wiretapping and data mining programs are not governed by the Constitution, which would cast Administration claims that the programs did not violate the Fourth Amendment in a whole new light — after all, you can't violate a law that doesn't apply. The claimed immunity would also cover other DoD agencies, such as CIFA, which carry out offline surveillance of political groups within the United States."
The Courts

FBI Posts Fake Hyperlinks To Trap Downloaders of Illegal Porn 767

mytrip brings us a story from news.com about an FBI operation in which agents posted hyperlinks which advertised child pornography, recorded the IP addresses of people who clicked the links, and then tracked them down and raided their homes. The article contains a fairly detailed description of how the operation progressed, and it raises questions about the legality and reliability of getting people to click "unlawful" hyperlinks. Quoting: "With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids. The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements. While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant."
United States

Copy That Floppy, Lose Your Computer 766

Over the weekend we posted a story about a new copyright bill that creates a new govt. agency in charge of copyright enforcement. Kevin Way writes "In particular, the bill grants this new agency the right to seize any computer or network hardware used to "facilitate" a copyright crime and auction it off. You would not need to be found guilty at trial to face this penalty. You may want to read a justification of it, and criticism presented by Declan McCullagh and Public Knowledge." Lots of good followup there on a really crazy development.

Gary Kasparov Arrested Over Political Fight 427

geddes writes "World chess champion turned opposition leader Gary Kasparov was arrested this morning while leading an march through Moscow in opposition to Russian President Vladamir Putin. Kasporov is a leader of the 'Other Russia' coalition which has been banned by the government from appearing on TV, and had been denied a marching permit. From the New York Times: 'Essentially barred from access to television, members of Other Russia have embraced street protests as the only platform to voice their opposition ahead of parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections next March. Early this month, Mr. Kasyanov's and Mr. Kasparov's Web sites were blocked, though it was unclear by whom.' Kasparov was later released from detention, though he was still fined for participating in the event."

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