11/01/2007 - Before adjourning for the August recess, the House and Senate approved different bills renewing the Patriot Act. The House measure (H.R. 3199) would make permanent most of the expiring law enforcement provisions, and it would extend for ten years two controversial items—seizure of personal records, such as those held by libraries, and roving wiretaps. The Senate version of the bill (S. 1266) would also make permanent most of the provisions but would extend the two controversial provisions for only four years. In addition, the Senate legislation, which is preferred by civil rights advocates, would allow people to challenge warrants issued by secret courts and would require that those targeted be notified within seven days unless a judge grants an extension. When Congress returns in September, a House and Senate conference committee will try to draw up a compromise bill that resolves the differences.
10/05/2007 - Google Earth now lets computer users zoom through space to specific sites all over the world. Mapping is also making great strides in the law enforcement world, where geographic information systems (GIS) have been replacing pin maps. Systems such as New York City’s COMPSTAT have been highly successful in mapping and depicting virtually any combination of crime/arrest locations, crime hot spots, and other information in real time.
10/04/2007 - A bill (S.B. 62) recently signed into law in Georgia has created the new crime of “initiation of deceptive commercial e-mail.” Designed to punish those who lure children via chat rooms and instant messaging, the crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and 12 months in jail. On the second offense, however, the act is a felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and five years in prison. The law also allows law enforcement officers to subpoena an Internet service provider to obtain the identity of a computer user under investigation for stalking children online.