Posts Tagged ‘#encryption’
2016 Republican presidential candidate and billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump said that he supports reauthorizing the USA PATRIOT Act and bulk cell phone metadata collection by the National Security Agency in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show earlier this month.
In the above-embedded clip, Hewitt asks Trump, “On metadata collection, Ted Cruz is glad the NSA got out of it. Marco Rubio wants it back. What’s Donald Trump think?”
“Well, I tend to err on the side of security, I must tell you,” Trump replied, “and I’ve been there for longer than you would think. But, you know, when you have people that are beheading if you’re a Christian and frankly for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security, and so that’s the way it is, that’s the way I’ve been, and some people like that, frankly, and some people don’t like that.”
“And I’m not just saying that since Paris, I’m saying for quite some time. I assume when I pick up my telephone people are listening to my conversations anyway, if you want to know the truth. It’s pretty sad commentary, but I err on the side of security,” said Trump.
Hewitt then asked, “Alright, so you would be in favor of restoring the Patriot Act?”
“I think that would be fine. As far as I’m concerned, that would be fine,” Trump responded.
Newsweek points out that Donald Trump has held the same position since before the Paris terror attacks. He said this summer, “I support legislation which allows the NSA to hold the bulk metadata. For oversight, I propose that a court, which is available any time on any day, is created to issue individual rulings on when this metadata can be accessed.”
Information commissioner tells Tom Watson’s review that Conservatives are risking a return to ‘private government’
Exempting advice given to ministers from freedom of information requests risks returning the UK to the “dark ages” of “private government”, the information commissioner has warned. Christopher Graham told a review into the legislation that changes to FoI being considered by a government commission could lead to a blanket ban on all advice being made available to the public.
“The danger is the Whitehall machine might run more smoothly, [but] you are back to that world of private government which I don’t think fits with the 21st century,” Graham told the review, led by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson. “FoI is the price you pay for being a modern, accountable and efficient government in the 21st century.”
Details of advice given to ministers can be withheld if it is deemed in the public interest to do so, but part of the government review is considering whether ministers need a “safe space” to discuss policy with advisers.
The commission has been criticised for its membership, some of whom are on the record as having criticised FoI, and for holding private briefings and hearings. Watson’s review, which was set up in response to the commission, is holding public hearings. Though it is led by Labour, it has support from members of other parties, including the Conservative MP David Davis.
Campaigners for freedom of information, including Davis, think parliament is unlikely to approve any changes to the act. However, there are concerns that the government could try to water it down by introducing measures, such as fees for requests, that do not need to go before parliament. Graham said any attempt to introduce charges could “only be seen as a disincentive” to dissuade requests.
Watson’s review has said it will look at ways the act could be strengthened, including extending it to cover private contractors delivering public services. Graham said the act should “absolutely” be extended to make private contractors more accountable to the public, in part because so many more services traditionally considered within the public realm were now delivered by private companies.
He said: “I think it is absolutely essential that, as more and more services are provided by private contractors, we have to be clear about there being no less accountability.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office is proposing a range of measures that would open up private contractors to the public, including writing commitments to transparency into contracts and designating larger long-term providers as public bodies for the purposes of the act.
Graham rejected comments by the leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, to the effect that journalists were misusing the act to generate stories. He said: “Journalists will always give you a hard time, but that’s just life.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is putting a hold on top State Department appointments — including the nominee for the department’s fourth-highest post — until he gets the answers he’s seeking from a former top aide of Hillary Clinton tasked with helping determine which of the former secretary of state’s emails should be made public.
The Iowa Republican — who also is investigating the special employment status afforded to Clinton confidant Huma Abedin while at State — has slammed the department for its “continued intransigence and lack of cooperation” throughout the inquiry, which dates back to June 2013. Critics, including Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, have derided the probe as a politically motivated bid to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign for the White House.
For its part, the State Department says it has responded to Grassley’s questions “in 16 formal letters and many briefings, calls and emails,” but remains overwhelmed by the volume of requests.
Grassley, who last week released holds on 20 career Foreign Service Officers, is now turning to bigger fish in a bid for leverage to get more cooperation from the department.
He is blocking the nomination of Thomas Shannon to replace Wendy Sherman as under secretary for political affairs, the No. 4 post in the department. In addition, his office told Fox News he has placed holds on the nominations of Brian James Egan for legal adviser and David Malcolm Robinson for assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.
A hold is procedural tactic senators often employ to extract information or other concessions from the administration. President Obama himself made use of holds as a senator from Illinois, blocking nominations to the EPA during the Bush administration over objections to lead paint regulations.
Grassley’s holds came as he fired off a letter to former Clinton aide Heather Samuelson, posing 19 questions about the process used to screen the emails for the former secretary of state.
He also asked Samuelson what kind of security clearance she had at the time, given that hundreds of Clinton’s emails have been shown to contain classified information.
“Given the importance of securing and protecting classified information … it is imperative to confirm when, how, and why you, and any of your associates, received a security clearance in connection with your work on behalf of Secretary Clinton and whether it was active while you had custody of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Grassley wrote in the letter, first reported by Politico.
“Further, it is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”
Clinton has come under heavy fire for routing official emails through a personal server during her time as secretary of state. The Democratic front-runner’s aides have also faced scrutiny for their roles in determining which messages to turn back over to the agency, which has been slowly making them public under a court order.
Critics have accused Clinton of putting sensitive government information at risk under the arrangement. Separately, the FBI has been investigating whether the setup resulted in the mishandling of classified information.
The State Department insisted it is trying to work with Grassley’s office.
“Over the course of the last several months, the mounting requests from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee have contained nearly 200 detailed questions and 65 unique document requests,” department spokesman Alec Gerlach said in a statement. “The department is committed to working with the committee and providing responses as quickly as possible, but the growing effort needed to accommodate these requests is overwhelming the resources we have available.”
A Grassley spokeswoman described the level of cooperation as “sparse.”
Senate Democrats have urged Grassley to drop his objections.
“The senior Senator from Iowa comes to the floor and talks about the proper use of taxpayer resources,” Reid, the Democratic leader, said earlier this month. “He should walk into his bathroom and look into the mirror and find out what he’s doing about the proper use of taxpayer resources. He should be willing to tell us about the resources his committee is spending to investigate Secretary Clinton.”
Source: Fox News
In the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times evenhaving to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.
Yet, pushed by their sources in the government, the media quickly became a sound wall of noise suggesting that encryption was hampering the government’s ability to stop these kinds of attacks. NBC was particularly breathless this week over the idea that ISIS was now running a 24 hour help desk aimed at helping its less technically proficient members understand encryption (even cults help each other use technology, who knew?). All of the reports had one central, underlying drum beat implication: Edward Snowden and encryption have made us less safe, and if you disagree the blood is on your hands.
Yet, amazingly enough, as actual investigative details emerge, it appears that most of the communications between the attackers was conducted via unencrypted vanilla SMS:
“…News emerging from Paris — as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January — suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted.
European media outlets are reporting that the location of a raid conducted on a suspected safe house Wednesday morning was extracted from a cellphone, apparently belonging to one of the attackers, found in the trash outside the Bataclan concert hall massacre. Le Monde reported that investigators were able to access the data on the phone, including a detailed map of the concert hall and an SMS messaging saying “we’re off; we’re starting.” Police were also able to trace the phone’s movements.
The reports note that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the “mastermind” of both the Paris attacks and a thwarted Belgium attack ten months ago, failed to use any encryption whatsoever (read: existing capabilities stopped the Belgium attacks and could have stopped the Paris attacks, but didn’t). That’s of course not to say batshit religious cults like ISIS don’t use encryption, and won’t do so going forward. Everybody uses encryption. But the point remains that to use a tragedy to vilify encryption, push for surveillance expansion, and pass backdoor laws that will make everybody less safe — is nearly as gruesome as the attacks themselves.