[ISN] Governor Calls for 'Cyber Court'

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Oct 19 2001 - 11:22:57 PDT

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    By Declan McCullagh 
    2:00 a.m. Oct. 18, 2001 PDT  
    WASHINGTON -- Malicious hackers, look out. 
    A government anti-terrorism commission will recommend that Congress
    create a shadowy court to oversee investigations of suspected computer
    Gov. James Gilmore (R-Virginia), the commission's chairman, said
    Wednesday that federal judges have been far too sluggish in approving
    search warrants and eavesdropping of online miscreants.
    Instead, Gilmore told the House Science committee, the commission will
    recommend that a "cyber court" be created with extraordinary powers to
    authorize electronic surveillance and secret searches of suspected
    hackers' homes and offices.
    Police investigations are currently hamstrung by a lack of "effective
    procedures and understanding by many in the judiciary concerning the
    nature and urgency of cyber security," Gilmore said.
    Wednesday's hearing comes after members of the House and Senate voted
    overwhelmingly last week to grant police more surveillance powers,
    including the ability to conduct Internet wiretaps without court
    orders in some circumstances. President Bush asked Congress for the
    legislation after the Sept. 11 attacks.
    The Gilmore commission's recommendations tend to carry weight in
    Washington: Bush already acted on the group's advice to create an
    Office of Homeland Security. Gilmore's current job as chairman of the
    Republican Party and his reputation of being tech-savvy -- AOL Time
    Warner's online operations are in Virginia -- add to his clout.
    Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Michigan) suggested additional punitive
    measures. "I think hackers should also be considered terrorists and
    sentences that hackers get should be in line with terrorist
    sentences," Ehlers said.
    Some drafts of the anti-terrorism legislation that has been wending
    its way through Congress have included life prison sentences for
    convicted hackers, though the latest version reserves that penalty
    only for exceptional cases.
    Gilmore offered few details on the proposal to create a hacker-court.
    A House press release says only that the commission will recommend the
    "establishment of a special 'Cyber Court' patterned after the court
    established in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."
    The so-called FISA court is notorious among civil libertarians for
    being a secret, seven-judge court that meets behind closed doors to
    approve surveillance requests in "national security" cases.
    Proceedings are sealed and judges do not require "probable cause" -- a
    legal standard required in ordinary investigations -- before ordering
    eavesdropping or surreptitious entries to plant listening devices.
    Congress created the FISA court in 1978 to oversee foreign
    intelligence investigations that were too sensitive to take through
    the normal process. The FISA judges review the Justice Department's
    requests and, with the exception of one or two cases, have always
    approved them.
    Because the FISA court meets in secret, and its orders are sealed,
    subjects are often unaware they're under surveillance.
    Gilmore also called for an "unprecedented partnership between the
    public and private sectors" in sharing intelligence and real-time
    information. In a nod to privacy, he recommended that Congress create
    a not-for-profit entity to oversee the process.
    Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York) seemed to agree, saying,
    "market forces have given most in private industry little incentive to
    invest in computer security even as their reliance on the Internet
    Gilmore went a step further, saying it was necessary to have "an
    entity to develop and implement" plans to improve network security.
    Boehlert said the committee is beginning to draft legislation on this
    topic. He didn't offer any dates, but said he'd take into account the
    Gilmore commission's recommendations.
    Ben Polen contributed to this report.
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 19 2001 - 13:24:33 PDT