http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2001/12/27/fbi-snooping.htm NEWARK, N.J. (Reuters) — A defense attorney for reputed mobster Nicodemo Scarfo Jr Thursday promised an appeal of a federal judge's ruling that the FBI properly spied on Scarfo's computer system. The ruling the first of its kind in a federal district court capped six months of controversy that weighed computer privacy rights against law enforcement's right to use secret computer technology in criminal probes. "Of course the matter takes on added importance in light of recent events and potential national security implications," wrote U.S. District Judge Nicholas Politan in a 25-page decision handed down late Wednesday. Acting under a court-ordered search warrant in 1999, FBI agents installed a so-called key logger device in Scarfo's computer to crack into encrypted files. Evidence they gathered led to the indictments of Scarfo and a codefendant in June 2000 on gambling and loan-sharking charges. Defense attorneys said the case might have been a "run of the mill bookmaking case" except for the surveillance issue. They requested full disclosure of the government's operation, claiming Scarfo otherwise would not get a fair trial. Specifically, the attorneys wanted to ensure that e-mail messages were not gathered by modem and phone lines, possibly constituting an illegal wiretap. In his ruling, Politan said the government convinced him at a Sept. 26 closed meeting that no information was picked up while a modem was on. Prosecutors were justified in invoking the Classified Information Privacy Act to protect national security at stake in the case, he said. Vincent Scoca, Scarfo's attorney, said he will file to have the ruling reconsidered, a first step toward higher appeals. "This a is a bad precedent for our judicial system. This was a two-bit bookmaking operation. There was nothing extraordinary about this case that warranted them using the Classified Information Privacy Act," he said. "That's a police state and we don't want a police state. Even in these times, after Sept. 11, people still don't (want) unwarranted government intrusion." Scoca was not allowed to attend the September meeting. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Wigler said the judge's access to classified information at the meeting was "a safeguard to prevent the government from overreaching, as the defense alleges. That's why there are these checks and balances." Scarfo's trial including evidence gathered from the FBI surveillance is likely get under way in the spring, Wigler said. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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