In late March, rumors surfaced that FBI Director Robert Mueller was on the verge of dismantling the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), which has been the government\u2019s primary critical infrastructure threat assessment and response unit since its founding in February 1998. NIPC spokeswoman Debra Weierman insists that rumors of the center\u2019s demise have been greatly exaggerated. However, Mueller\u2019s April 2 appointment of Larry Medford?former head of the FBI\u2019s San Francisco field office, which just completed a two-year undercover counterfeit-software sting?as assistant director in charge of a newly created Cyber Division, casts the NIPC\u2019s future as we know it in doubt.The Cyber Division\u2019s charter is vague. An FBI press release says that the division will "supervise and facilitate the FBI\u2019s investigation of federal violations in which the Internet, computer systems and networks are exploited as the principle instruments or targets of criminal activity." Even a spokesperson admits that the new group\u2019s role isn\u2019t fully resolved.Critics, including Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), interpret the Cyber Division\u2019s charter to mean that it will be put in charge of the NIPC, a move that could prove fatal to the government and private sector collaboration that the NIPC was formed to foster. The new division is clearly intended to be a law enforcement organization?it\u2019s even listed under the bureau\u2019s criminal investigations wing. In a letter to Mueller, Grassley warned that burying the NIPC deeper within the FBI\u2019s crime fighting bureaucracy would threaten the already-fragile trust between the center and the private sector, which controls 90 percent of the nation\u2019s critical infrastructure. Companies are already wary of sharing security breaches, he writes, and could respond by cutting off the flow of infrastructure information to the FBI.\nThe creation of the Cyber Division has other ramifications for the private sector as well. Ari Schwartz, an analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology, says that there will now be more agents to process cybercrime information?a classic double-edge sword. "The upside is that there are more resources to fight crime," says Schwartz. "The downside is more people working without oversight. The USA Patriot Act [the omnibus antiterror legislation that sailed through Congress in the wake of Sept. 11] has a lot of demands on the private sector that were not well debated. There are companies that will be very surprised when the FBI comes knocking on their door, which they now have the resources to do."\n-Ben WorthenParanoia or Prudence? Banning Foreign WorkersOn March 7, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) planned to ban foreign-born IT professionals from working on sensitive projects by midsummer. The controversial policy prompted Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President Harris Miller to write a letter to DOD Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Edward Aldridge expressing his concern. "Public policy must be based on real-world actions and tangible threats?not supposition and innuendo," wrote Miller. In a press time interview, Miller told CIO that since his letter, the timetable for the ban has been pushed back, but that as far as he knows the DOD\u2019s intentions haven\u2019t changed. Miller feels that the ban, which has yet to be debated publicly, would be a blow to small to midsize IT shops. The ban would cover all foreign-born employees, Indian programmers on H1-B visas and Canadian-born U.S. residents alike. "It\u2019s inconvenient, but a big company can shift its workers around," says Miller. However, the implication is severe "if you are a small or medium-size business and 10 percent of your workforce is foreign," he says.One thing is clear to Miller, however. "The slower track is definitely good news," he says.-B.W.