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Dmitry haunts FBI-chief's confirmation

Plus the latest Net-porn-inspired legislative madness

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Washington Roundup President Dubya's nominee to head up the FBI in the wake of recent debacles too numerous to mention, Robert Mueller, just happens to be the fellow responsible for prosecuting Russian programmer Dimitry Sklyarov, who's been hounded by Adobe for helping to develop an application which cracks their eBook Reader.

Mueller currently heads the San Francisco US Attorney's Office, which, like its counterparts nationwide, is charged with the solemn responsibility of chasing down rogue programmers and copyright scofflaws on behalf of media giants. Mueller also gets to sit before the US Senate starting Monday to be considered for the top post at FBI, in which capacity he can take the blame for his predecessor's numerous failures.

We were intrigued when Mueller agreed to meet with watchdog group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Friday. Clearly he's worried about Sklyarov haunting his confirmation. During the sit-down, Mueller and company "did not give any indication of their plans for Dmitry," EFF reports. Which is hardly a surprise. We're confident that his interest in the meeting was recon -- to get a sense of how far EFF and others sympathetic towards Sklyarov might go in generating unfortunate publicity starting Monday. It also gave him a chance to look reasonable and fair by listening to the opposition's concerns, regardless of what he decides.

He'll have to tread a fine line during the hearings. The Senate will want to hear that he's prepared to enforce the laws which Congress and that army of lobbyists on Capitol Hill stick us with, regardless of how grotesque they may be. On the other hand, if public pressure continues to mount in Sklyarov's favor, Congress will want some manner of loophole by which to change its tune so it can pander to voters later on, and they'll need to know that Mueller won't paint them into a corner with the Sklyarov prosecution.

We're thinking a modest fine and several years' probation....



Proving yet again that he never met a piece of populist feel-good crap legislation he didn't like, US Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) introduced the Anti-Sexual Predator Act of 2001, along with Senate colleague Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah), who we always thought had more sense and dignity than that.

The bill makes a mockery of federal wiretap controls in order to accommodate cops and Feds eager to intercept your personal communications. In this case, they get access to "wire and oral communications relating to child pornography materials," in order to prosecute perverts involved in the "coercion and enticement of individuals to travel interstate to engage in sexual activity, and the transportation of minors for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity."

"Oral communications" indeed -- that means a microphone in your bedroom, chumps. Once again, that handy handful of perverts justifies the erosion of everyone's liberty....



The US Department of Justice has asked the appellate court to reject a request from Microsoft to allow it to be heard once again on the finding that it illegally bundled Internet Explorer with Windows. The DoJ reckons MS would only waste the court's time arguing its case endlessly on the premise that if the judges find in its disfavor, they must not have understood the arguments.

"Microsoft also treats its petition for rehearing as an occasion to expound upon a variety of topics, most of them irrelevant to the issue at hand," DoJ wrote.

Microsoft had filed for the re-hash opportunity in reply to a DoJ request that the case be expedited back to the circuit court....



The US District Court in Philadelphia has rejected a DoJ request to dismiss an important suit challenging the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which forces libraries to filter Internet access or lose their federal support.

The court refused to accommodate DoJ, saying that plaintiff the American Library Association (ALA) had given adequate evidence that the CIPA could inhibit free speech. The case will therefore go to trial in February 2002....



US Representatives Henry Waxman (Democrat, California) and Steve Largent (Republican, Oklahoma) released

a report

Friday in hopes of alarming parents about the terrifying potential for file sharing to disseminate pornography among innocent children.

On one hand, the report could be a useful heads-up to parents, encouraging them to keep a closer eye on their brats' online activities. On the other hand, it could be a precursor to an even more aggressive legislative assault against peer networking, on behalf of the media giants who despise it and who contribute so generously to election campaigns....

More Washington news

FBI becomes Copyright '911'
US Senator aims to kill Win XP launch
Watchdogs file Win-XP complaint with Feds
FBI cyber-braniacs infect themselves with SirCam
Adobe Folds!

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