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Taking a break from clearing the US airwaves of profanity, the DoJ's Witchfinder General John Ashcroft today boasted of a piracy sweep that has netted 200 computers in ten countries worldwide in the past twenty four hours.

With help from the MPAA and RIAA, Operation Fastlink is a joint venture between the FBI's Cyber Division and the DoJ's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section. The sweep has made 120 searches in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and Singapore.

A statement by the DoJ names warez groups including Fairlight, Kalisto, Class, Project X and Echelon. It isn't obvious that the last group is a joke. If the DoJ seriously thinks that "Echelon Tracking Technology" is used for swapping Warez, we could be on the brink of a major inter-departmental feud: one we'd bet the National Security Agency will win.

"The top release groups are hierarchical, highly structured organizations with leadership positions that control day-to-day operations, recruit new members and manage the group’s various computer archive sites," we learn from the DoJ Press Release: although this is a description that could apply to anyone from the San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic to IBM.

The Department says the value of software and copyright material seized is around $50m. The cost of the international exercise was not disclosed. ®

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