Privacy and Cybersecurity Weekly Digest

US FREEDOM Act Introduced, Seeks to Curb Mass Government Surveillance

Last week, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) introduced legislation that, according to a recent press release, “seeks to restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities.” The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act (“USA FREEDOM Act”) is described as a bill intended to “reform the authorities of the Federal Government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes.” According to Senator Leahy, “The government surveillance programs conducted under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act are far broader than the American people previously understood,” and this legislation is intended to provide “serious and meaningful reforms.”

Representative Sensenbrenner and Senator Leahy co-authored an op-ed at Politico on October 29th stating, “We are two veteran lawmakers who believe now is the time for that reform and for a meaningful discussion about protecting privacy and national security in the 21st century.” Senator Leahy’s bill was introduced as S. 1599, while Representative Sensenbrenner’s bill was introduced as HR. 3361. Continue to check The CACR Supplement’s Legislative Review page to get continued updates on these bills as they moves through the House and Senate.

Snowden obtained information by persuading other NSA workers to give him their passwords
Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel of Reuters report that Snowden persuaded other NSA workers to give him their login information by telling them that the passwords “were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator.” Snowden then used these credentials to gain access to materials that he may have been unauthorized to access. Snowden’s use of between 20 to 25 fellow workers login information as well as his attempts to obscure his electronic traces have left investigators unsure exactly which data Snowden had access to and how much of the data he downloaded.
C.I.A. pays AT&T $10 Million a year for access to AT&T’s extensive phone records
Charlie Savage, writing for the New York Times, reports that the C.I.A. has paid AT&T over ten million dollars per year to conduct phone record searches. This cooperation is not mandated by court order, and is instead rooted in contract. Under the contractual agreement, the C.I.A. provides AT&T with the phone numbers of foreign terrorist suspects; AT&T then searches its vast phone records to determine who the individual has been in contact with. As the C.I.A. is prohibited for spying on domestic activities, if AT&T encounters a phone call between the foreign suspect and a domestic person, AT&T does not disclose the identity of the American and “masks several digits of their phone numbers.”
French court holds that Google must filter out images on privacy grounds
Mark Scott of the New York Times reports that on Wednesday a French court ruled that Google must filter an illegally recorded picture from its search results. The picture is of Max Mosley, the former president of the International Automobile Federation, engaged in an orgy. Mosley had argued that, under French law, it is illegal to “distribute images of an individual in a private space without that person’s permission.” Under the judgment, Google must filter nine images from its global search results.

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