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Cyber Security Act slips into Homeland Security legislation

Hackers face life imprisonment, snoops gain sweeping powers
Thu Nov 14 2002, 12:44
BIG BROTHER IS COMING TO THE US. Indeed, the Orwellian nightmare figure is firmly established there already, but the Homeland Security legislation just approved by the House of Representatives is surely an attack on freedom in the country that laughably calls itself the home of the free.

And included in the Department of Homeland Security legistation is a push to punish malicious computer hackers with life in prison.

With the pretext of protecting citizens against terrorism, US legislators are happily throwing personal freedoms out the window.

A 16-page Cyber Security Enhancement Act (CSEA) slipped into into the Homeland Security bill at the last moment to allow police to conduct Internet or telephone eavesdropping willy-nilly with no requirement to ask a court's permission first.

In a statement, a sponsor of the Bill, republican Lamar Smith said: "We need a new government structure with a clear focus and clear mission to protect Americans and increase public safety. The new Department of Homeland Security will fulfill that vital role." This was the guy who said earlier in the year: "A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb."

The Cyber Security Enhancement Act demands life sentences for those hackers that "recklessly" endanger lives. The Act seeks to allow Net surveillance to gather telephone numbers, IP addresses, and URLs or e-mail information without recourse to a court, where an "immediate threat to a national security interest" is suspected. ISPs will also be permitted to hand users' records over to law enforcement authorities, overturning current legislation that outlaws such behaviour.

The Act still has some way to go before it becomes law, but the Bushist propaganda will no doubt make it an act of patriotism in a time of insecurity to support the legislation. Sheesh. µ


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