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.UK Registrar Offers To Let Police Close Domain 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
judgecorp writes "The .uk registrar, Nominet, has proposed rules that would give the police powers to demand Internet domains be shut down without a court order, in certain circumstances. The powers were requested by the Serious and Organized Crime Agency and have aroused concern that legitimate sites might be closed on suspicion of wrongdoing. Nominet's suggested implementation is online for public consultation."
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.UK Registrar Offers To Let Police Close Domain

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  • by Lunaritian (2018246) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:27AM (#37308606)

    "The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement."

    Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

    • by sribe (304414)

      Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

      And I was under the impression, mistaken perhaps, that the UK and most of Europe did not consider prostitution a serious crime?

      • by ge7 (2194648)
        Surprise surprise, EU countries are sovereign. They have their own laws. In some countries you find streets full of prostitutes, in some it's kind of illegal but there's no punishment (as long as the prostitutes are working themselves and nobody is pimping them) and in some countries it's outright illegal to buy or sell sex. Most men get around these laws by buying gifts or taking women to restaurant, but it's basically the same thing.
        • "Most men get around these laws by buying gifts or taking women to restaurant, but it's basically the same thing."

          sounds like what we do in america to get laid >.> i think its called a "date"

          • by ge7 (2194648)
            It's actually kind of interesting thing compared to some countries in Asia. There the situation is kind of reversed - as a guy you can just walk to a bar and it doesn't take long for them to try to come hit on you. It really doesn't take long for a guy to find a nice girlfriend there, if he just wants to. The women know that too, and really appreciate when they find a nice guy. The downside is that they can get quite jealous easily. But well, they even give beer money from the little they make to their guy
            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              They give "beer money" because they essentially own family money - it's expected that husband brings his entire salary home to his wife, who may or may not, at her own discretion give husband some spending money.

              It really isn't nearly as rosy as you paint it. Grass only appears to be greener on the other side.

              • by ge7 (2194648)
                Not that I would know how it is after you marry, but where I've been women are working hard too. Maybe the whole deal isn't as rosy, but for a single guy it's much more awesome place to be. I guess in western world it mostly comes from the position most men have put women to ie., getting sex is, well, getting and women is the one giving, as well as thinking beautiful girls are hard to get. When men think like that, of course women start to take advantage of it.
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            "Most men get around these laws by buying gifts or taking women to restaurant, but it's basically the same thing."

            sounds like what we do in america to get laid >.> i think its called a "date"

            There's nothing so embarrassing as taking a prostitute out for a meal , buying her gifts and still finding at the end of the evening that she won't sleep with you.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

        And I was under the impression, mistaken perhaps, that the UK and most of Europe did not consider prostitution a serious crime?

        Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

        And I was under the impression, mistaken perhaps, that the UK and most of Europe did not consider prostitution a serious crime?

        In the UK, it's gnerally the trafficking and exploitation of young, possibly under-aged vulnerable women that is seen as a serious problem by many people, not so much prostitution in itself, although kerb-crawling (picking up prostitutes in your car off the street) is illegal, as are many other activities associated with prostitution, like running a brothel.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, maybe UK people will loose faith in the canonical DNS and switch to others. Legal actions get confusing from there.

    • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:40AM (#37308716) Journal

      "The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement."

      The interesting thing is that it should be trivial for the cops to get a court order if there is any evidence that the site is involved in any of that.

      Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

      As for copyright infringement, yes, it is so serious of a crime that international treaties have been created around it that give beneficial or detrimental trade preferences depending on how copyright is handled. Some of these treaties have been around longer then anyone you know was alive or anyone they could have known was alive.

        In the small scheme of things, you giving or receiving a music recording or copying a book and passing it to a couple friends is meaningless. In the grand scheme of things, too much of that means other countries will restrict trade (even in non-related areas) and disregard the copyright of your county and possibly more.

      Whether we want to think it is a big deal or not, it has been for over 150 years. At least it has with almost every tin pot dictator or elected body of government the western world has seen in that time. Copyright promotes the influx of ideas and content from other areas while exporting wealth and values.

      • where "other countries" is a euphemism for "the United States"...

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I guess anything is possible in your mind.

          However, other countries signed the same international copyright treaties the US is part of before the US did. In fact, the Two treaties that brought us the DMCA was signed and ratified by the European Union before the US signed on and created the DMCA as part of the ratification of them. The berne convention carried most of Europe and the rest of the world while the US was stuck on 20 years in bilateral treaties with it's trade partners until the mid to late 80's w

      • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:23PM (#37309068)

        They can get a Court order - Unlike the US where it takes only a short time, (at least according to US TV Cop shows). here it takes days at least and often longer, a website could have scammed many people by then

        Even with this there are safeguards, if they shut down a website, (remove DNS to it) then later cannot provide enough evidence to justify it, they can be sued ...

        But having said that I am always dubious of police powers if they have the potential to be mis-used ...

        • Can be sued, yea no effort there. How about a 100k penalty (held by a third party) if they are unable to get a court order within x time and if that order is overthrown. Yes they can shut down a site if it's realy important but they wont start doing it at the drop of a hat.

      • by 1s44c (552956) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:30PM (#37309110)

        "The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement."

        The interesting thing is that it should be trivial for the cops to get a court order if there is any evidence that the site is involved in any of that.

        So why do they need powers to take down websites where they have no evidence of any wrongdoing?

        Maybe for the same reason they need powers to stop and search people without even the faintest suspicion of any wrongdoing. That is they are corrupt and just looking to increase their power.

      • by avatar139 (918375)

        As for copyright infringement, yes, it is so serious of a crime that international treaties have been created around it that give beneficial or detrimental trade preferences depending on how copyright is handled.

        That's kind of dodging the question though, as the legality of copyright infringement is related to the establishment of those political treaties but is not contingent upon them.

        Some of these treaties have been around longer then anyone you know was alive or anyone they could have known was alive.

        That's an interesting point, but how old a law is usually only comes into play when looking at the history of how the courts have ruled it to apply in different situations when discussing matters of law, not treaties.

        When looking at how diplomacy is actually practiced, treaties are generally more for political/public/perceptual

        • by ge7 (2194648)

          What the mafiAA (and most other businesses) fail to grasp is that the majority of people in other countries simply cannot afford to pay $10-15 for a movie ticket when the average income is $3,000 a year, so of course piracy is going to be prevalent in a lot of countries!

          They're aren't paying $10-15 per movie ticket. For example Thailand, where the average income per year is $3,000-4,000, movie ticket costs about $2. Or if you want your own big sofa in the theater, $4. Other prices are similarly scaled down.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          That's kind of dodging the question though, as the legality of copyright infringement is related to the establishment of those political treaties but is not contingent upon them.

          No, it's not dodging it at all. The governments of the countries determine what is or what isn't a crime and the punishment or rememdies to that crime is describes the seriousness of it. The international treaties also attempt to get other nations to take it just as seriously-- .

          That's an interesting point, but how old a law is

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        too much of that means other countries will restrict trade (even in non-related areas) and disregard the copyright of your county and possibly more.

        And yet Sweden, Russia, China, Spain, Brazil, Canada and all the rest who don't subscribe to the US vision of copyright infringement = theft punishable by massive fines and jail terms are still somehow able to trade internationally.

    • so in that case, i wonder what they go after, the copyright infringement of the picture? or the guys running the prostitution ring?

    • by AlecC (512609)

      "Is involved"? Who says? Properly speaking, until there has been a trial, then the site is only alleged to be involved - so the they could not close it down. I have no problems with closing sites after a fair trial has found guilt of a crime. Unfortunately, the implication of the rest of the article is that "is involved" actually means "is alleged by police to be involved"

    • Duh. That's the ONLY reason this law would be used at all. Do you think anyone cares about you getting swindled out of your money?

    • by 1s44c (552956) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:25PM (#37309086)

      "The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement."

      Always copyright infringement. Is it really a "serious crime"? And will this rule really have any effect?

      The thing is it's not 'sites involved in', It's 'sites accused of being involved in'. This rule is wide open for abuse, they can shutdown anything with it.

      Besides it's a totally stupid rule as the current DNS setup lets anyone anywhere register anything anywhere else. Not to mention you don't even need a domain name to host a website.

      This is stupid political powermongering types giving excessive power to corrupt police. Again.

    • The potential loss of potential profit is a monumentally horrible occurrence. Just thinking about it happening to me causes me to become paralyzed with fear.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Copyright infringement is the worse crime anyone can commit. Just wait someday we will see a death penalty proposed; I wish I was joking.

  • Every domain has its own set of political issues, including .com/.net/.org, which the US ICE can take down if you even link to copyright-infringing material. You just have to know the risks and choose the domain that's least likely to run you into legal trouble depending on the content your site is hosting.

    • by biodata (1981610)
      What happens to domains which link to domains which link to infringing content? Would it work to have your homepage on a .com and the backend elsewhere or is the law allowed to see through these kinds of indirection and basically shut down anything they don't like?
      • They attack whichever site the front end is on - including any sites that redirect straight to an infringing domain. So if you're running 70stvtorrents.com with the backend on 70stvtorrents.es or something like that, whether the interface to the site itself is on the .com or it just redirects to the .es, the .com will get taken down.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I'm not sure you can claim a degree of separation if the site is designed to drive traffic to the offending site or another site designed to drive traffic to an offending site. Perhaps if it was masked as a news site or something but that's the basis of the torent and other search problems sites like packet news and iso hunt ran into.

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      Every domain has its own set of political issues, including .com/.net/.org, which the US ICE can take down if you even link to copyright-infringing material. You just have to know the risks and choose the domain that's least likely to run you into legal trouble depending on the content your site is hosting.

      Ok, so where is a safe domain to put my homepage under?

      The only safe domain I know of is .bit because it's controlled by a peer to peer network of computers not corruptable humans.

  • by biodata (1981610) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:28AM (#37308616)
    The proposed policy looks like the typical fudge - 'we don't want to start acting as judge and jury but if the evidence is strong then we are going to start acting as judge and jury' seems to sum it up.
  • Repressive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:28AM (#37308620) Homepage Journal

    There's a name for this sort of thing: extrajudicial punishment.

    I hear in civilized parts of the world, it's highly frowned upon.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed... what do these people have agains due process? I have it difficult to see that an action like this where there is no loss of life issues could warrant a court order free closure of domains, even for serious crime... just follow due process and get the bloody court order.

    • Re:Repressive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:24PM (#37309080)

      It's kinda like the inquisition trials. No, I'm not trolling. One of the core features of an inquisition trial was that accuser and judge were united in the same person or party.

      And that's basically what's going to be used here. Accuser and judge will be rolled into one party: The police. I just doubt that one other feature of the inquisition, the guidance of the holy spirit to lead the judge to a fair and considerate verdict, would be with them...

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      There's a name for this sort of thing: extrajudicial punishment.

      I hear in civilized parts of the world, it's highly frowned upon.

      Where are these civilized parts of the world you talk about?

      Extrajudicial Punishment and various forms of abuse of power are common in every western country I've ever seen, the non-western ones tend to be far worse.

      • It's highly frowned upon by society, in western countries. The cops lobby for powers to be able to do it, and citizens frown when they are granted.

        Examples: Where I live, they have this stupid "street racing" law that they have expanded to mean exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h (regardless of circumstances), squealing tires, driving the wrong way to get out of traffic (e.g. motorcyclists getting charged for using part of a ramp or merging lane to sneak out of a traffic jam). The penalty is impounding the

        • by thsths (31372)

          So you get people being charged with this offense for ridiculous things like exceeding the speed limit by 50km/h in an 80 km/h zone

          What is it about speeding that gives people the feeling they are entitled to it? The speed limit is the law - breaking it is breaking the law, and of course that has to be punished (otherwise the law would no longer be respected). And speeding is most certainly not a victimless crime - most fatal accidents involve either speeding, alcohol, mobile phones or some other disregard for the law.

          For the geeks here: a vehicle travelling at 130 km/h has 2 1/2 times the kinetic energy of a vehicle traveling at 80 k

          • Actually I am entitled to pass vehicles that are slowing me down and to do it safely and get back in my lane, I sometimes need to use my engine. Back in the day when cops weren't trained to be mindless, overbearing, money collecting tools of the state, they wouldn't have batted an eye for passing someone at 80 mph (the speed limits were higher too). In fact when stopped, you often just got a warning about excessive speed if you were passing. Police used to try to facilitate the flow of traffic.

            Of course, yo

  • The problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:30AM (#37308640) Homepage

    The problem with all these sorts of powers (including the Justice Department shutting down sites it deems to have violated copyright) is that there's no judicial procedure.

    Why is it that they don't understand the idea of having to prove wrongdoing by a website owner instead of merely asserting it?

    In the new world, is enough to merely be accused of being a "pirate" to be shunted into a place where you have no rights? And no compulsory process for redress, and confronting your accusers?

    • by tqk (413719)

      Why is it that they don't understand the idea of having to prove wrongdoing by a website owner instead of merely asserting it?

      Oh, they understand it. They just don't like it and don't want it to apply to them. They're outsourcing that responsibility to the police instead by paying politicians to criminalize it instead.

      Look at it from their point of view: everyone and their dog is stealing their stuff with impunity and not paying what they should be paying, and how can anyone expect mere rights-holders to stop that by watching and suing everyone on the planet with an Internet connection?

      Solution for you? Stop buying and consumin

      • by sjames (1099)

        How does that help? They just conclude the lost sales is due to piracy and start accusing everyone in the phonebook unless they fork over $1000 each.

        They're going to have to be killed with fire.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      i think one of the biggest problems here is that the oversight the people generally trust the most (judicial) is removed when the cops act first.

      It's sort of like having the police police themselves. Was it a valid shooting of the unarmed suspect, why yes it was because the officer thought he was armed when the guy ran away.

      See where this runs? the judicial oversight is supposed to be that one catch that weeds out the off course he;s armed, he;s the bad guy justification.

  • Well (Score:1, Troll)

    by Mensa Babe (675349) *
    Just another reason to not use the .uk domain at all - the other one being that it should be .gb by ISO standard. Fortunately everyone can use the .com domain which quite frankly is the only professionally looking domain for any company that ever plans to do any business worldwide.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:31AM (#37308656) Homepage

    But just before you go ahead, Nominet, could you be a love and identify, oh let's say three examples of where a .uk domain has - ever - caused "serious and immediate consumer harm" before due process resulted in a court order shutting it down?

    That's all I'd want to see. Three clear examples of harm, actual harm, not theoretical, and that ended in a court order. An actual court order, that was upheld, of course.

    Nothing sub judice about that, court proceedings are public, so of course it won't be a problem to provide those three examples. Will it?

    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      Generally, any site where that's happened probably not going to be well publicised.

      But it's not exactly a huge stretch to believe there have been at least 3 instances where .uk sites have been shut down for hosting child porn for example. To narrow the harm down to 'consumer harm', it's not a huge stretch to believe that there have been 3 instances of phishing sites being shut down either.

      I can't give specific examples of any of these things because neither the victims, or the police would want these
      • by sjames (1099)

        Yes, but they would have to show ACTUAL harm that happened as a result of the delay caused by waiting on a warrant.

        And why wouldn't a dead and gone domain name be reported publicly?

    • 1. Who will register with Nominet after this? it is not like there is a shortage, this is just another MBA empty suite, and hat!

      2. If they do this to you sue them at the same time as the Police and CPS.

      3. There will be NO examples, as getting an expartite injunction with evidence would take an afternoon, but in the UK you must post a bond for damages
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Basically all the sites that sell fake concert tickets. I don't want to dignify any of them with links but there are a lot more than three of them. Like maybe 300 of them.

    • by sjames (1099)

      And of course, since police will be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the shutdown is just and necessary, they will happily post a bond to be paid to the target should a court not subsequently issue a warrant, right?

  • The problem is that when someone has a website that exposes corruption (say in the Met Police), the site is usually shutdown preety quickly or the owner intimidated into removing the hosting services.

    This is not action against illegal acts, this is action by the police to protect each other from being foudn to have broken the law.

  • by Chelloveck (14643) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:42AM (#37308734) Homepage

    Wait, I'm having problems parsing that. Is that the Agency dealing with Serious and Organized Crime, or the Crime Agency that is Serious and Organized? Because frankly, the latter sounds just one door down from the Ministry of Funny Walks.

    • by biodata (1981610)
      I think it's the former, but what isn't clear is whether this is a true boolean AND whereby crime has to be both serious AND organised to be on their turf, or whether it is a more casual And whereby the deal with serious crime And organised crime.
    • by Hartree (191324)

      Well, thank heavens they aren't the Frivolous and Disorganized Crime Agency.

      • I could have used the FDCA when wankers would routinely wander up the street, breaking car wing mirrors and wipers as they went.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fully decentralised DNS to the rescue!

    http://dot-bit.org/HowToBrowseBitDomains

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The government is interested in shutting down the Internet. The alternative media gives out too much information, that the governments of the world consider to be dangerous.

    The government propped up monopolies in various industries (movies/music) must be protected by government obviously.

    Loyal to the government media must be protected.

    Any information that government finds to be embarrassing must be shut down.

    Ability of the common folks to organize via various Internet provided means must be shut down.

    Abilit

  • This will be an important development for our partners in countries like Syria, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Algeria, Egypt, and Iran, who are also having problems with wide spread hooliganism and the criminal element. Just last week, a troublemaker named Maikel Nabil Sanad went on a hunger strike in Egypt. That story is already being repeated on irresponsible websites who don't seem to care about protecting what really matters - the stability and security of the state.

  • You are all living in The Village.

    You are all numbers. You are less than nothing to those whom you allow to rule over you and oppress you.

    You have a choice to make.

    You can be free men and women. You can leave The Village anytime you wish.

    All it takes is for you to say, "No. I won't!" to the police when they tell you that you cannot take pictures in public. When they 'kettle' you and tell you to obey their orders.

    When they shoot innocent people in the back and tell you to move along.

    All it takes is for you t

    • Every time someone writes on of these condescending "Hello people of ...", I can't help but roll my eyes.

      The internet is truly global, and you need to keep in mind all the time. Authorities all over the world are diligently chipping away at digital rights, and it's everyone’s problem.

  • Read that title again more carefully:

    .UK Registrar Offers To Let Police Close Domain

    For careless lack of a bit of plurality, it winds up declaring that a domain registrar has proposed letting the police disable the entire .uk domain, or TLD. I can just imagine the reactions of the staunchest anti-authoritarians upon reading that little gem! Their heart rate and blood pressure must have spiked nicely for a moment there.

  • Just like the elderly gent, thrown bodily from the Labour party conference in 2005 by security guards as a "terrorist". After being ejected his conference pass was seized and he was detained under the Terrorism Act when he tried to re-enter the conference!
    All this because an 85 year old man said "nonsense" to an (according to his own party members) incompetent politician.
    We certainly cannot trust any UK government, since any law that could be abused to suit an interested 3rd party almost certainly will be.

  • Instead of making the police into judge, jury and executioner, what the UK (and the world) needs is simply more competent judges. Fine the criminals to fund educating, training, investigating and managing lots more judges.

    Tax the corporations that generate the majority of civil and much of criminal cases heard by judges (that they consider a "cost of doing business" paid by the people). The vast increase in court load, especially cases like the one in this story, is due to the business being transacted both

  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:25PM (#37309082)

    Right now this is at the very early discussion stage - "how would we do this, should we be the last resort rather than the first resort, what sort of judicial oversight should there be etc etc?"

    Now is the time for action - the time to write to Nominet and say "I don't want you doing anything without a court order". Because you can guarantee that the police will be writing to Nominet to say "Of course we won't abuse the system! Just let us shut down anything we want. Even better, save us the trouble of having to contact a human being and give us a web portal we can log into to suspend .uk domain names. Judicial oversight? Pah, unnecessary."

  • The citizens will just have to set up a better Internet. It will have black jack and hookers. It's going to be absolutely different from the current Internet with its black jack and hookers. Ah gee, if citizens do set up their own Internet I'll have to reregister in every black jack and hooker site again. I can barely remember where I am now and I'll have to remember 2sets of passwords for every black jack and hooker site? ffff
  • by mrogers (85392) on Monday September 05, 2011 @01:43PM (#37309550)
    Having stuck my oar in during a previous consultation, I was emailed a copy of the draft recommendations and asked for feedback. Here's the response I sent to Nominet.

    Dear ______,

    Thank you for circulating this draft. I'm disappointed to find that Nominet is still considering adopting a policy that effectively grants the police new powers. In a democratic society, the only acceptable way for police powers to be extended is through legislation. If there is a genuine need for the police to be able to take down websites without judicial supervision, Parliament should grant the police that power. If Parliament does not do so, no other organisation should arrogate the right to do so - particularly when, as the draft notes, the Government is currently considering such legislation.

    It may be inconvenient for the police, and perhaps even "harmful to consumers", that judicial oversight sometimes imposes delays on police work. Nevertheless, that oversight exists for good reasons, and attempts by the police to circumvent it are misguided and dangerous.

    Court orders are available at very short notice for other kinds of urgent police work; if the courts have not seen fit to make orders for taking down websites available to the police as quickly as the police would like then it is worth asking why not. Nominet should not allow itself to be manipulated by the police into short-circuiting the judicial process.

    As a piece of quasi-legislation, the draft is seriously lacking. It does not define key terms such as "consumer harm" or "UK law enforcement agencies with which Nominet has a trusted relationship". No process is defined for deciding which cases "involve disputes between private parties, freedom of expression or political speech", or for challenging such decisions.

    The vague language in the final paragraph about an "appeal mechanism" and an "independent panel" makes no concrete commitments to meaningful oversight. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how it could do so, since Nominet does not have any legal powers to punish wrong decisions or make reparations. The courts do - they are the proper venue for such decisions.

    Best regards,
    ______
  • The right to justice was won through centuries of suffering; but now history's sting appears dull. Liberties that great people died to protect we complacently let erode into ashes. Such prior restraint defiles the meaning of "Innocent until proven guilty," which we have all cherished as an underpinning of freedom. The due process of law is not a privilege, it is an entitlement of every free human being. Do not lightly surrender this right, especially at the bequest of the ignorant on behalf of the incompete

  • SOCA (or their successors) clearly seeking to expand their powers to punish people without evidence. New Labour laws have already made it possible for them to 'seize' money unless the owner can prove that they came by it honestly - this can be authorised by a court without any evidence other than the unsupported word of SOCA personnel.

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