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Two 'punky court hearings: Dec 6th, SF and San Jose
At 9AM on December 6 in San Francisco, the 9th District Court of Appeals
will finally hear the appeal of my original FOIA case against NSA.
At 10AM on December 6 in San Jose, Roger Schlafly's case against RSA Data
Security will hold a hearing on the validity of the Diffie-Hellman,
Hellman-Merkle, RSA, and Schnorr patents.
Mark your calendar!
My hearing is the first (and probably only) oral arguments to the
Court of Appeals. The overall issue is whether NSA is violating the
law by deliberately taking six months to three years to handle
ordinary FOIA requests. (And what can/will the courts do about it.)
The specific issue that we appealed on is whether the lower-court
judge in the case has the discretion to throw out a case in which the
government is violating the law, without addressing the problem.
The legal theory is that since the courts are peoples' only recourse
when the government violates its own laws, the court system can't
simply ignore the problem. This would mean that the people have NO
recourse against a despotic government (except armed or nonviolent
rebellion, which is a terrible solution).
There are lots of other ramifications, since NSA has built up a
formidible wall of nit-picky procedural defenses. Since the judges
will steer the oral hearing, I don't know whether they'll focus on the
big issue or the gritty details. I'll work on getting some of the
This case (CA No. 94-16165) is NOT at the Federal Building; the Court
of Appeals is at 121 Spear Street (2 Rincon Center), 4th Floor,
Courtroom 2, 9AM. I think Rincon Center is the old Post Office at
Mission and Spear Streets. Spear is "0th Street", downtown between
the Bay and 1st Street.
It probably won't be as much fun as the Bernstein hearings. But if we
win (here and in a few other hearings), it could pry NSA open to
public accountability. And this would go a long way toward making
some real progress in the crypto policy debate. We might actually get
to see the other side's concerns!
If you come, wear a "good clothes" costume.
If I wasn't going to be at my own hearing, I'd be at Roger's. He has
sued RSA and PKP in the hope of overturning their patents, which they
have been wielding like a club over anyone trying to make progress in
public-key cryptography. (RSA's idea of reasonable and
non-discriminatory licensing is "How much money do you have?").
Though some companies have disputed RSA's patents, nobody has ever
made a court determine whether the patents are really valid. Roger
aims to fill that gap.
You may even get to see Jim Bidzos ooze through the courtroom. In an
earlier hearing in the Schlafly case, Jim claimed that Roger had
insufficient honesty and character because he had held a joint talk
with *me* at Crypto '94 about our respective lawsuits. Jim described
me to the court as an avowed destroyer of intellectual property
rights, and strongly implied that I had unlawfully revealed their
valuable RC4 trade secret. It ain't so, on any level, and if he says
something like it again, I want lots of witnesses.
10AM, San Jose federal court, Judge Williams' courtroom. I hope Roger
will post more details, access info for the legal documents in the
case, and directions to the building.