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September 26, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 273.
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Bush and Ashcroft Promote Anti Terrorism Bill
President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft both made forceful statements on Tuesday, September 25, in support of passage of the Administration's draft [PDF] of the "Anti Terrorism Act of 2001". This is a large collection of provisions that would increase the authority of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate and prosecute terrorists.
The bill stalled on Monday when the House Judiciary Committee postponed its mark up of the bill, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, and when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered his own set of proposals, and said his Committee could take weeks. Legislators have advocated watering down the administration's bill in order to protect civil liberties.
President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and other administration officials, advocated prompt passage of the bill. President Bush stated that "I hope Congress will listen to the wisdom of the proposals that the Attorney General brought up, to give the tools necessary to our agents in the field to find those who may think they want to disrupt America again." He added that "in order to win the war, we must make sure that the law enforcement men and women have got the tools necessary, within the Constitution, to defeat the enemy." See, story: "Bush Speaks to FBI Employees About Anti Terrorism Bill", at far right.
AG Ashcroft asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to "give law enforcement the tools we need to fight terrorism." He explained that "terrorism is a clear and present danger", that there is the "potential for additional terrorist incidents", and that this includes the use of crop dusting planes to spread hazardous materials. See, story: "Ashcroft Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee", at right.
Anti Terrorism Bill Is Vague on Surveillance of Internet Communications
9/25. John Ashcroft and other advocates of the Administration's draft [PDF] of the "Anti Terrorism Act of 2001" state that it brings electronic surveillance laws that were written for analog phone communications over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) into the age of digital packet switched communications over the Internet. The bill's language regarding pen register and trap and trace devices is one way that the bill seeks to accomplish this. Yet, the language in the Administration draft leaves much for future interpretation.
A pen register records the numbers that are dialed or punched into a telephone. Current law covers "wire" communications only. A pen register is "a device which records or decodes electronic or other impulses which identify the numbers dialed or otherwise transmitted on the telephone line to which such device is attached ..." See, 18 U.S.C. § 3127(3).
Under the Administration's proposal (at Section 101), this would be expanded from merely capturing phone numbers, to capturing routing and addressing information in any electronic communications. Specifically, as amended, the statutory definition of pen register would read, "a device or process which records or decodes dialing, routing, addressing, or signalling information transmitted by an instrument or facility from which a wire or electronic communication is transmitted ..." The proposal would similarly expand the concept of trap and trace, which currently captures incoming phone numbers. Under current law, this is "a device which captures the incoming electronic or other impulses which identify the originating number of an instrument or device from which a wire or electronic communication was transmitted." See, 18 U.S.C. § 3127(4).
There are currently two different standards for obtaining surveillance orders -- one for obtaining pen register and trap and trace orders, and another for wiretap orders under Title III (which allow the government to obtain the content phone conversations). The former is a very low standard. The current statute reads, "the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or a trap and trace device ..." if the government "has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation." Issuance of the order is mandatory, and the standard -- mere relevance - is low. In contrast, wiretap orders are within the discretion of the Judge, and require a showing of probable cause.
E-mail or web "routing" or "addressing" information might be interpreted to mean subject lines, CCs, search terms, query strings, and other information not collected from telephone communications. Hence, what is at issue is not just expanding the scope of pen register and trap and trace orders to Internet communications, but also whether some information in the nature of content will become available to the government without an order based upon probable cause.
The statements by Senators and Ashcroft indicate that they understand that this language means that pen register and trap and trace authority would be extended to Internet communications. Their statements also suggest that they do not intend for statute to cover content. But, nowhere would the statute, if it is so amended, elaborate any details. The words Internet, e-mail, web, instant message, subject line, are all absent. ISP, mail service provider, mail servers, web servers, are also not mentioned. The statute would not address the technological methods to be used for collecting pen register and trap and trace information in the context of email or web browsing. It would not address the structure of Internet communications, and which parts would be covered and which parts would be excluded from collection under pen register and trap and trace orders. The statute would merely state that, henceforth, "routing and addressing" information in an "electronic communication" is covered.
While the statutory language is not specific on this issue, Ashcroft has offered some of his interpretation. The following is the entire exchange between Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ashcroft on this matter at the September 25 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Grassley: "As I recall, you stated that e-mail routers should be treated the same as the telephone numbers that are captured by a pen register or a trap and trace. The fact is, there are not the same. Doesn't the e-mail router contain some information about what is contained within, and then really go further, than what it seems to me you want to go. Because you want to know who is communicating, but you do not know what the message is."
Ashcroft: "We are very cognizant of the need for the different standards for the content, any indication of the content of the call. Though the only thing that we seek to discovery, based on the trap and trace, and the pen registry, is the address of the sender, and the address of the recipient."
Grassley: "Since that information also includes some information about the message contained, don't you then go a little bit further, than what you anticipate going? And I am not questioning your veracity. I just want to understand, understand that you might be going further than you intend to go there, based upon your statement."
Ashcroft: "Our view is that the subject line, which requires us to have a Title III, or the higher level authority, and we do not want that line as a result of our pen register or trap and trace. We want this to be technology neutral. We don't think that there should be a competitive advantage to people using the digital circumstance that gives them an impunity that they didn't have in the analog world. But, we are not seeking, and I don't believe legislation -- I would be happy to confer on this -- and if there are ways that we need to adjust it, we will. We are not asking that we get content, or an identification of the possible content, or even the titling of the message. We want to know the instrument from which it was made, and the instrument to which it was directed."
Neither Sen. Grassley, nor any other Senator, asked Ashcroft about the application of the draft bill to web based communications, such as the entry of URLs in browsers, the use of search engines, or web forms.
Ashcroft Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee
9/25. Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Administration's draft [PDF] of the "Anti Terrorism Act of 2001." He assured the Committee that "this Justice Department will never waiver in our defense of the Constitution nor relent our defense of civil rights."
Ashcroft then said that law enforcement needs new tools to fight terrorism. He summed up his proposals: "First, our laws fail to make defeating terrorism a national priority. Indeed, we have tougher laws against organized crime and drug trafficking than terrorism. Second, technology has dramatically outpaced our statutes. Law enforcement tools created decades ago were crafted for rotary telephones - not email, the internet, mobile communications and voice mail."
He also went into some specifics of the electronic, including Internet, surveillance provisions. "Terrorist organizations have increasingly used technology to facilitate their criminal acts and hide their communications from law enforcement. Intelligence gathering laws that were written for the era of land-line telephone communications are ill-adapted for use in communications over multiple cell phones and computer networks."
He continued that "Our proposal creates a more efficient, technology neutral standard for intelligence gathering, ensuring law enforcement’s ability to trace the communications of terrorists over cell phones, computer networks and new technologies that may be developed in the coming years."
He added that "the information captured by the proposed technology neutral standard would be limited to the kind of information you might find in a phone bill. The content of these communications would remain off limits to monitoring by intelligence authorities, except for under current legal standards."
He concluded that "Our proposal would allow a federal court to issue a single order that would apply to all providers in a communications chain, including those outside the region where the court is located. We need speed in identifying and tracking down terrorists. Time is of the essence. The ability of law enforcement to trace communications into different jurisdictions without obtaining an additional court order can be the difference between life and death for American citizens."
Sen. Hatch said, in a statement which he submitted for the record, that "Electronic surveillance, conducted under the supervision of a federal judge, is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of our law enforcement community. It is simply unfortunate that the laws currently on the books which govern such surveillance were enacted before the fax machine came into common usage, and well before the advent of cellular telephones, e-mail, and instant messaging. All of these modern modes of communication we now know were principal tools used by the terrorists to coordinate their deadly attacks. The Department of Justice has asked us for years to update these laws to reflect the new technologies, but there has always been a reason to go slow, to seek more information, to order further studies. We simply cannot afford to wait anymore!"
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Leahy, remains skeptical. He said that "we are making progress with respect to a number of areas of law". However, he added that "we cannot allow terrorism to prevail by curtailing our Constitutional democracy or constricting our freedoms." He has floated his own counter proposal. See also, prepared statement of Sen. Leahy.
Several members of the Committee defended the entirety of the Administration's proposal. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking Republican on the Committee, said that "I have reviewed the Attorney General's proposal, and I can say without reservation, that the Administration's requested authorities reflects the measured and cautious response to the events of the last couple of weeks." He also defended the wiretap and pen register and trap and trace provisions specifically. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), a former Chairman of the Committee, said "the Attorney General's proposals are reasonable, and entirely consistent with the Constitution," and that the Congress should not delay.
Every member of the Committee was present for all or part of the hearing. Ashcroft was accompanied at the hearing by Michael Chertoff (Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Larry Thompson (Deputy Attorney General), Viet Dinh (Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy, Chris Painter (of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section), and others. However, Ashcroft was the sole witness. The hearing lasted about one and one half hours. Junior members of the Committee who were not able to ask questions asked that the hearing been continued on another date. The Committee has scheduled another hearing for Tuesday, October 2.
John Ashcroft and the Senate Judiciary Committee
9/25. The events of September 11 changed everything in Washington DC, including the relationship between the Attorney General and the Senate Judiciary Committee. When President Bush nominated Ashcroft to be Attorney General early this year, many of the Democrats on the Committee, including the Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) tried to block his confirmation. Some of the attacks were partisan, personal, and ugly.
On September 25, Ashcroft was welcomed back. Sen. Leahy stated that "I have been very very pleased that you have been there ... leading this effort." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Ashcroft that "I think you have done a very fine job."
5th Circuit Rules on Scienter Under PSLRA
9/25. The U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) issued its opinion in Nathenson v. Zonagen a class action securities suit in which the 5th Circuit construed the scienter requirement under the PSLRA.
The plaintiffs' complaint alleged violation of §§ 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b5 thereunder. Plaintiffs alleged fraud by Zonagen, a biopharmaceutical company, and several of its officers and directors. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(6), and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA). The District Court dismissed with prejudice. The Appeals Court reversed and remanded.
This is another in the series of federal Appeals Court opinions construing the scienter requirements for class action securities litigation, following passage of the PSLRA. This Appeals Court followed the rulings of several other circuits that recklessness still constitutes scienter for purposes of 10b5 claims.
Congress passed the PSLRA, 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4, to insulate defendants, and especially info and bio tech companies, from abusive class action law suits. The PSLRA creates both a safe harbor for forward looking statements, and a heightened pleading requirement. Plaintiffs must "state with particularity facts giving rise to a strong inference that the defendant acted with the required state of mind." See, 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(b)(2).
See also, opinions of other circuits: Janas v. McCracken (In re Silicon Graphics Sec. Litig.), 183 F.3d 970 (9th Cir 1999); Novak v. Kasaks, 216 F.3d 300 (2d Cir); In re Advanta Corp. Sec. Litig., 180 F.3d 525 (3d Cir 1999); Bryant v. Avado Brands, 187 F.3d 1271 (11th Cir 1999); Greebel v. FTP Software, 194 F.3d 185 (1st Cir 1999); Helwig v. Vencor, (6th Cir 2001); and Philadephia v. Fleming (10th Cir, 2001).
Spread Spectrum Devices
9/25. Tuesday, September 25, was the deadline to submit reply comments to the FCC in its notice of proposed rule making to amend the FCC's rules to improve spectrum sharing by unlicensed devices operating in the 2.4 GHz band, to provide for introduction of new digital transmission technologies, and to eliminate unnecessary regulations for spread spectrum devices. See, comment [PDF] submitted by 3Com and others, comment [PDF] submitted by Agere Systems, and comment [PDF] submitted by Texas Instruments. ( ET Docket No. 99-231.) See, NPRM and notice in Federal Register: June 12, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 113, at Pages 31585 - 31589.
PPI Advocates Use of New Technologies at Airports
9/25. The Progressive Policy Institute issued a paper [PDF] in which it argued that the "Congress should also give serious consideration to significantly expanding the use of cutting-edge, advanced information technologies to help make our airports more secure." It advocates the use of biometric authentication technologies, such as finger print or automatic facial recognition, radio frequency tags for baggage, and luggage and passenger scanning technologies. The PPI is a Washington DC based Democratic Party think tank. Robert Atkinson wrote the report. See also, executive summary [HTML].
Bush Speaks to FBI Employees About Anti Terrorism Bill
9/25. President George Bush gave a speech at the FBI Headquarters in Washington DC in which he advocated passage of his anti terrorism bill. He said that "in order to win the war, we must make sure that the law enforcement men and women have got the tools necessary, within the Constitution, to defeat the enemy."
Bush specifically addressed the electronic surveillance provisions of the bill. He stated that "what we've seen is these terrorists are very sophisticated, and so are their communications. They must -- their calls must be penetrated when we feel there's a threat to America. We've got to know what's on their mind. And so, therefore, we must give the FBI the ability to track calls when they make calls from different phones, for example." Under current law prosecutors obtain wiretap orders that are specific to phones, not persons. The FBI seeks new authority to obtain orders specific to individuals, regardless of their location or communication device.
President Bush continued that "Now, this is what we do for drug dealers and members of organized crime, and it seems like to make sense to me, if it's good enough for the FBI to use these techniques for facing down those threats to America, that now that we're at war, we ought to give the FBI the tools necessary to track down terrorists."
Bush also addressed the provisions of the bill pertaining to detention of terrorists, and the sharing of information between intelligence and law enforcement. Both have run into sharp criticism from some Democrats on Capitol Hill.
The President concluded that "I want you to know that every one of the proposals we've made on Capitol Hill, carried by the Attorney General, has been carefully reviewed. They are measured requests, they are responsible requests, they are constitutional requests. Ours is a land that values the constitutional rights of every citizen. And we will honor those rights, of course."
Wednesday, Sept 26
The House will meet at 10:00 AM for legislative business; no votes are expected past 2:00 PM.
9:30 AM. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a closed hearing to examine critical energy infrastructure security and the energy industry's response to the events of September 11. Location: Room 366, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management, and Intergovernmental Affairs will hold a hearing titled "Information Technology - Essential Yet Vulnerable: How Prepared Are We for Attack?" Location: Room 2154, Rayburn Building.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Common Carrier Committee will host a brown bag lunch titled the "The Upcoming Common Carrier Agenda." The speakers will be FCC Legal Advisors Kyle Dixon (Powell), Matthew Brill (Abernathy), Jordan Goldstein (Copps), and Sam Feder (Martin). RSVP to Rhe Brighthaupt at rbrighthaupt@wrf. Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1750 K Street, 10th Floor Conference Room.
Third day of a three day conference of the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS). See, ALTS brochure [PDF]. Location: The Crystal Gateway Marriott, 1700 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia. The agenda for September 26 includes Bruce Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, at 9:00 - 9:45 AM, and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), member of the House Telecom Subcommittee, at 9:45 - 10:30 AM.
Thursday, Sept 27
Yom Kippur.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding implementation of the local competition provisions of the Telecom Act of 1996. This NPRM invites parties to update and refresh the record on issues pertaining to the rules the FCC adopted in the First Report and Order in CC Docket No. 96-98. See, notice in Federal Register, August 13, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 156, at Page 42499.
Deadline to submit comments to the USPTO on issues associated with the development of a plan to remove the patent and trademark classified paper files from the USPTO's public search libraries. See, notice in Federal Register, August 27, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 166, at Pages 45012 - 45014.
Deadline to submit comments to the Copyright Office (CO) on proposed amendments to the regulations governing the content and service of certain notices on the copyright owner of a musical work. The notice is served or filed by a person who intends to use the work to make and distribute phonorecords, including by means of digital phonorecord deliveries, under a compulsory license, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 115. See, notice in Federal Register, August 28, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 167, Page 45241 - 45245.
Friday, Sept 28
CANCELLED. 10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The FCC's WRC-03 Advisory Committee will hold a meeting to continue preparations for the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference. Location: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C305, Washington DC. See, notice in Federal Register, September 7, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 174, at Pages 46793 - 46794.
Extended deadline for submitting comments and notices of intent to participate in a copyright arbitration royalty panel proceeding to the Copyright Office regarding its proposed regulations that will govern the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) collective when it functions as the designated agent receiving royalty payments and statements of accounts from nonexempt, subscription digital transmission services which make digital transmissions of sound recordings, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 114. See, notice [PDF] in Federal Register, September 21, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 184, at page 48648.
Deadline to submit rebuttal comments to the USTR in its investigation of the intellectual property laws and practices of the government of Ukraine. See, notice in Federal Register, September 24, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 185, at Page 48898. Location: Office of the USTR, 1724 F Street, NW, Rooms 1 and 2, Washington DC.
More News
9/25. Nancy Victory, head of the NTIA, gave a speech in Washington DC in which she touched on her policy priorities. She stated that the "NTIA will be continuing our interagency project assessing the viability of various frequency options for third generation wireless services." She also stated that "another of my priorities is to stimulate the deployment throughout the country of broadband communications networks that support high-speed, two-way data transfers."
9/24. The European Commission announced that it approved Cendant Corporation's acquisition of Galileo International Inc. See, EU release and Cendant release.
Sen. Enzi Promotes EAA
9/25. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) gave a speech in Washington DC in which he promoted S 149, the Export Administration Act of 2001 (EAA), of which he is the sponsor. He participated in a program sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled "European Defense Industrial Consolidation Conference."
The bill passed the Senate early this month, but has yet to pass the House. He stated that the goal of the bill "is to eliminate unnecessary trade barriers, while focusing controls on the items most sensitive to our national security." He added that "the bill recognizes that the U.S. is rarely the only producer of militarily useful high tech products, and items available from foreign sources or available in mass market quantities cannot be effectively controlled."
He also addressed the bill's termination of MTOPs controls. He stated that "In the case of high performance computers, the 2001 EAA greatly enhances the President's ability to respond to rapidly changing technology. Specifically, the bill repeals a provision in the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, which locked into statute a metric for measuring the performance of computers." He added that "This does not mean that computers will not be controlled. Instead, it means that the President may control computer exports in a way that is more responsive and effective."
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