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‘Chinaman’ dethrones ‘Hacker’ on cyber-terror hit parade

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Washington Roundup After years of failure trying to generate mass paranoia with the 'pitiless teenage hacker', the US government this week trotted out its new and improved cyber-terror strawman: the one-billion-strong 'Yellow Menace'.

The classic disaffected teenager is "nothing more than a nuisance," US Senator Robert Bennett (Republican, Utah) scoffed during a Congressional Joint Economic Committee hearing entitled "Wired World: Cyber Security and the US Economy" which convened on Thursday.

Apparently the government is taking no chances with the sort of ridicule it grew accustomed to in the Vatis/Hamre/Clarke era, and has decided to leapfrog over the next logical evolutionary step on the threat escalator (i.e., the 'Islamic Digital Terrorist' or 'Mad-skillz Mafioso') straight to adversary nations whose military establishments are creating vast divisions of deadly Cyberspace Troopers.

The shift in rhetorical focus was neatly summed up by CIA Science and Technology National Intelligence Officer Lawrence Gershwin, who told Congress that for the foreseeable future, "only nation states appear to have the discipline, commitment and resources to fully develop capabilities to attack critical infrastructures."

So that's it then. We're going to miss the pimply young monosexuals with which the Clinton Administration's military apparatus was so obsessed, though of course we look forward to meeting our new national Nemesis as Uncle Sam gradually defines him to the press....



Internet pedophiles are propagating so fast that US law enforcement is completely overwhelmed, and Congress is therefore toying with the idea of rolling back essential civil protections so they can be hunted down properly.

US Representative Nancy Johnson (Republican, Connecticut) has introduced a bill called the "Child Sex Crimes Wiretapping Act of 2001," which would give Feds and cops a heap more freedom to tap the telephones of 'sexual predators' discovered luring children in chat rooms.

According to Johnson's bit of feel-good imbecility, the discovery of Internet-based crimes such as child enticement and trading child pornography would qualify a suspect for a fast-track telephone wiretap. This sounds like something the Feds will adore, so no doubt they'll have to assign even more FBI agents to hang around in chat rooms pretending to be thirteen-year-old girls, as this delightful satire describes.

Incredibly, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime approved the bill this week, though it's anyone's guess how it would fare in full committee or on the floor. A number of critics -- US Representative Robert Barr (Republican, Georgia) chief among them -- have already expressed doubts.

"I appreciate the concern [for due process of law], and I respect it; but I hope it won't stand in the way of giving our law enforcement the power to combat this epidemic," Johnson is quoted by Newsbytes as saying.

Epidemic? Oh, right; we forgot that pedophiles didn't exist before the Internet....



The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has seen fit to submit a

supplementary brief

in the appeal of 2600.com, which is being sued by entertainment industry lobbyists for making the DeCSS utility which descrambles DVDs available via its Web site.

The DoJ simply adores the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) under which 2600 is being punished, and its chief concern is persuading the appellate court that the Act is a really fine piece of legislation.

The defendant is arguing, among other points, that the DMCA violates fair use and other provisions of the Audio Home Recording Act. The DoJ, in this case, is primarily concerned with defending the DMCA.

The Act is "reasonable and supported by substantial evidence in the record before Congress," DoJ says, and concludes that "it is therefore Constitutionally sound."

Furthermore, the DoJ FUD-Meisters add, the DMCA was not rash or overreaching, because it's solely responsible for preventing every scrap of copyrighted content on the Internet from vanishing without a trace.

"Congress was under no obligation to wait until the Internet withered from lack of content. Rather, Congress acted wisely to prevent that harm by fortifying a new medium of communication against very real and crippling technological assaults," the Department writes.

'Crippling technological assaults'. It seems we've ended right where we began this edition of the Roundup. No doubt we'll soon be hearing that the People's Liberation Army is involved... ®

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