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Federal judge seeks to protect Indian trust account data by putting DOI offline again

[JURIST] A federal district court judge in Washington, DC has again ruled that the US Department of the Interior [official website] must disconnect computers from the Internet that have access to data related to trust accounts it administers for American Indians. Judge Royce C. Lamberth [official profile] said in the 205-page opinion [PDF text; order, PDF] that the department's computers were vulnerable to hackers because security there was "disorganized and broken." The Interior Department plans to appeal the decision. The order is the latest in a 1996 lawsuit on behalf of a half-million Indians who claim the United States has squandered $137 billion in royalties from land set aside for Indian use under the Dawes Act of 1887 [NA backgrounder]. Congress passed the American Indian Trust Reform Management Act [PDF text] in 1994, which required the department to account for all the money in the fund. Lamberth has previously ordered [PDF injunction] that the department's Internet connections be cut off, but his most recent order had been overturned [JURIST report] by a federal appeals court, which ruled that there was no evidence of actual tampering by hackers. Tuesday's New York Times has more.

Previously in JURIST's Paper Chase...

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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