[ISN] DOJ Tapping Cable Modems w/o Permission

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 03:30:34 PST

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    Forwarded from: Aj Effin Reznor <ajat_private>
    Why, hello, Mr. Orwell...
    What's that?  A not-so-distant nail being pounded into a coffin???
    DOJ's Already Monitoring Modems
    By Declan McCullagh and Ben Polen
    4:42 p.m.  Nov. 28, 2001 PST 
    WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice already is using its new
    anti-terrorism powers to monitor cable modem users without obtaining a
    judge's permission first.
    A top Bush administration official lauded the controversial USA
    Patriot Act at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, saying that the new
    abilities have let police obtain information in investigations that
    was previously unavailable.
    "We would not have been able to do (this) under prior law without a
    specific court order," said Michael Chertoff, assistant attorney
    general in the Justice Department's criminal division.
    Previously, federal law said that "a cable operator shall not disclose
    personally identifiable information concerning any subscriber."
    Section 211 of the USA Patriot Act changes the law to read: "A cable
    operator may disclose such information if the disclosure is ... to a
    government entity."
    Other USA Patriot Act sections mean that police can obtain an Internet
    Protocol address, which identifies a cable modem subscriber, as
    readily as they can learn someone's telephone number.
    Chertoff said the government also has used its new powers to obtain
    court orders for logs from Internet providers that are outside of the
    court's traditional jurisdiction.
    "We've obtained court orders directed to out-of-district Internet
    service providers for logging information....  We've used the
    nationwide search warrant provision to obtain relevant information,"
    Chertoff said. "We've used the emergency disclosure provisions to
    support our use of information that was provided to us by an Internet
    service provider."
    Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy called the hearing to review
    some of the Bush administration's recent actions that have raised
    concerns among civil libertarians, such as detaining over a thousand
    suspects, and the creation of secret military tribunals to try
    suspected terrorists.
    Leahy said in his opening remarks: "Whether any or all of these ideas
    are popular or unpopular at the moment, as an oversight committee, we
    accept our duty to examine them."
    The anti-terrorism law that President Bush signed last month amended
    the Cable TV Privacy Act and Title 18, Section 2703 of the U.S. Code's
    title 18 to faciliate greater eavesdropping.
    It also made it easier for government agencies to share information
    with each other, Chertoff said: "We have used it to start the process
    of sharing information between the intelligence side and the law
    enforcement side."
    Attorney General John Ashcroft has said the FBI began using the powers
    mere hours after President Bush signed the law. The Justice Department
    has prepared a "field guidance" manual (PDF) for prosecutors.
    Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the committee, said
    he thought the Bush administration was responding appropriately to the
    Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
    "The administration can take these positions," Hatch said. "They have
    to justify them, but they can take them, and I think there's more than
    enough information here to justify the positions they've taken."
    The Department of Defense has been responsible for drafting the
    guidelines for the military tribunal, but can ask the Department of
    Justice for assistance. "The Department of Defense can ask us for
    help," Chertoff said.
    Leahy replied: "I hope you wouldn't wait for an invitation.  Pick up
    the phone and call them."
    Attorney General Ashcroft was invited to speak at this hearing but
    declined to attend, and instead is scheduled to appear at a hearing on
    Dec. 6.
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