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Date: 2002-03-05

US: Telekoms als Hilfspolizisten


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"Vorbeugung ist die einzige klare Priorität" und "Informationsfreiheit hat ihre
Grenzen" sprach der US-Justizminister John Ashcroft, der ein
Geistesverwandter seines österreichischen Kollegen Dieter Böhmdorfer ist.

post/scrypt: Wer hat da schon wieder "vorbeugende Gefahrenermittlung"
gesagt?

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U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft shopped the Bush administration's anti-
terrorism agenda to the nation's regional telecom providers today, urging
them to press ahead with reforms that would make it easier for the
government to intercept terrorist communications. He also said asked for the
industry's support for a bill that would allow companies to share sensitive
data with the government without fearing that federal law would require the
government to release it.

"The freedom of information concept has virtue, but it also has liability,"
Ashcroft said.

Speaking at the U.S. Telecom Association's annual meeting in Washington,
D.C., today, Ashcroft said federal law enforcement officials sorely need new
tools to gather covert information to win what is shaping up to be an
unconventional war on terrorism.

"When a criminal seeks to extinguish himself in the commission of the
crime, prosecution is a relatively ineffective strategy. Prevention is the only
clear priority," Ashcroft said.

Ashcroft praised Congress for its passage of the Patriot Act, which – among
other things – allows federal law enforcement agents to track suspected
criminals' communications across multiple jurisdictions with a single court
order.

"This increased efficiency saves vital time, time necessary to stop our
enemies before they strike," he said. "Given the opportunity, extremists
would cripple American telecommunications."

Ashcroft also hailed the administration's efforts to create a public-private
sector partnership to share information on vulnerabilities in the nation's most
critical infrastructures, both physical and Internet-based.

Many companies have said they would be willing to more fully participate in
the partnership if they were guaranteed their communications could not be
disclosed via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Toward that end, Ashcroft urged telecom leaders to support legislation in the
House and Senate that would exempt information that companies share with
the government on computer or network vulnerabilities from FOIA.

The attorney general also defended the administration's decision to restrict
access to certain documents that the White House is worried could fall into
the wrong hands. Ever since Sept. 11, the administration has cleansed
federal agency Web sites and reading rooms of any public documents or
records that could help terrorists plan future attacks on U.S. critical
infrastructures. Many state and local governments have since followed suit.

Ashcrosft also urged telecom executives to speed their adoption of the
Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a 1994
statute that requires telephone companies to build surveillance capabilities
into their new digital communications systems.

Many telecom providers are requesting the extensions to comply with the law
because they cannot afford to implement the new software needed to update
their systems, said Mike Warren, former chief of the FBI's CALEA
Implementation Bureau.

While the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have often
reimbursed carriers for some CALEA compliance costs, the two agencies are
currently not in a financial position to reimburse any companies other than
the USTA's core constituents – the regional Bell operating companies.

"Most carriers are in a holding pattern right now," said Warren, now president
of Fiducianet, a company that contracts with telecom companies that receive
surveillance requests from the government.

"Manufacturers have developed CALEA solutions, but carriers are still seeing
those as very expensive," he said. "So they're faced with a lot of costs and
they're going to try to postpone that as much as they can. But in the light of
Sept. 11, many carriers are going to be moving forward even without the
possibility of reimbursement."

Privacy and consumer advocates watched in horror as Congress moved to
enact the Patriot Act last year. Now, civil liberties groups are calling for more
oversight of the new powers given to federal law enforcers.

"We haven't yet had congressional oversight over how law is being
implemented, and the uses of these new powers are all being cloaked in
secrecy," said Jim Dempsey, executive director of the Center for Democracy
and Technology.

Under the Patriot Act, federal law enforcement officials need only to tell a
judge that they're investigating suspected terrorist activity to gain access to
sensitive financial and medical information about suspected criminals.

"People are hoping these new authorities are bearing fruit, but as far as we
know, there hasn't been anyone arrested after Sept. 11 in connection with the
attacks," Dempsey said. "We've thought from the start that these new laws
were not likely to be effective in preventing new acts of terrorism, but the truth
is that we really don't know."

CDT also is concerned that neither of the FOIA bills address industry's
responsibility to fix the security problems they share with Congress.

"The question remains, how do we know this is going to be acted upon?"
Dempsey said. "What incentive is there to fix the problem? As it stands in
the current FOIA bills, there's an indefinite secrecy principle that acts as a
disincentive to fix the problem."

Source
http://www.washtech.com/news/telecom/15452-1.html




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edited by Harkank
published on: 2002-03-05
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