Subject: Legislation: USA & PATRIOT Acts
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:42:58 -0700
Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:42:58 -0700
US readers may be aware of pending anti-terrorist legislation currently
before the Congress.

Late word from Declan McCullaugh is that the House's PATRIOT Act is
being tabled in favor of the Senate USA Act.  The latter lacks the
sunset provisions, and generally approved fewer of the sweeping
provisions requested by US Attorney General Ashcroft.

I attended a hearing last night sponsored by the EFF in San Francisco.
The message is that while there is much to the bill that is not
objectionable, there remain some very serious concerns:

  - Haste.  These laws are being pushed through at breakneck speed, with
    changes occuring at a rapid pace.  I'm tracking them closely, yet
    generally am unable to see text until after actions (committee,
    floor vote, etc.) have been taken.  The consequences of these acts
    will be with us for years, if not decades.  There's a carpentry rule
    I'd like to invoke:  measure twice, cut once.  Let's get this one
    right, folks.  This takes time.

  - Sunset provision.  The Senate bill (USA Act) has no sunset
    provision.  The proposed changes will not expire until repealed by
    subsequent legislation.

  - Classification of many activities as terrorist acts, penalties for
    harboring or aiding terrorists.  Kevin Poulsen (
    noted that the security industry was strongly *opposed* to such
    measures as many in it could be subject to prosecution under the

  - Privacy issues.  The application of "pen and trace" and FISA
    surveillance to online activities is far more intrusive, and far
    more subject to abuse, than the equivalent phone surveillance.

  - Detention provisions.  Less specifically related to FSBs, though I'm
    sure we all know immigrants, many of middle-eastern origin.  Under
    the act, such persons may be subject to indefinate detention.

The most serious criticism of the Acts is that there's little evidence
that any of the measures above would aide in investigation, or that
legal obstacles seriously impeded investigations.  Rather, we've heard
of intelligence being available, but execution and inter-agency
breakdowns resulting in failures to intercept or halt activities (note
specifically, Mohammed Atta who was known to the CIA, had been admitted
by INS, but was not apprehended by the FBI).

Background from EFF (and a rep locator): eff wiretap alert.html

Please contact your Congressional representatives *NOW*.


Karsten M. Self <>
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