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Non-US Encryption Is 'Theoretical', Claims CIA Chief In Backdoor Debate ( 312

Iain Thomson, writing for The Register: CIA director John Brennan told U.S. senators they shouldn't worry about mandatory encryption backdoors hurting American businesses. And that's because, according to Brennan, there's no one else for people to turn to: if they don't want to use U.S.-based technology because it's been forced to use weakened cryptography, they'll be out of luck because non-American solutions are simply "theoretical." Thus, the choice is American-built-and-backdoored or nothing, apparently. The spymaster made the remarks at a congressional hearing on Thursday after Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) questioned the CIA's support for weakening cryptography to allow g-men to peek at people's private communications and data. Brennan said this was needed to counter the ability of terrorists to coordinate their actions using encrypted communications. The director denied that forcing American companies to backdoor their security systems would cause any commercial problems.

FBI Quietly Changes Its Privacy Rules For Accessing NSA Data On Americans ( 49

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has quietly revised its privacy rules for searching data involving Americans' international communications that was collected by the NSA, U.S. officials have confirmed to the Guardian. The classified revisions were accepted by the secret U.S. court that governs surveillance, during its annual recertification of the agencies' broad surveillance powers. The new rules affect a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702, the portion of the law that authorizes the NSA's sweeping "Prism" program to collect internet data. Section 702 falls under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and is a provision set to expire later this year. A government civil liberties watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, alluded to the change in its recent overview of ongoing surveillance practices. The PCLOB's new compliance report, released last month, found that the administration has submitted "revised FBI minimization procedures" that address at least some of the group's concerns about "many" FBI agents who use NSA-gathered data. Sharon Bradford Franklin, a spokesperson for the PCLOB, said the rule changes move to enhance privacy. She could not say when the rules actually changed -- that, too, is classified. Last February, a compliance audit alluded to imminent changes to the FBI's freedom to search the data for Americans' identifying information. "FBI's minimization procedures will be updated to more clearly reflect the FBI's standard for conducting U.S. person queries and to require additional supervisory approval to access query results in certain circumstances," the review stated. The reference to "supervisory approval" suggests the FBI may not require court approval for their searches -- unlike the new system Congress enacted last year for NSA or FBI acquisition of U.S. phone metadata in terrorism or espionage cases.

New FCC Rules Could Ban WiFi Router Firmware Modification 242

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday reports that the FCC is introducing new rules which ban firmware modifications for the radio systems in WiFi routers and other wireless devices operating in the 5 GHz range. The vast majority of routers are manufactured as System on Chip devices, with the radio module and CPU integrated in a single package. The new rules have the potential to effectively ban the installation of proven Open Source firmware on any WiFi router.

ThinkPenguin, the EFF, FSF, Software Freedom Law Center, Software Freedom Conservancy, OpenWRT, LibreCMC, Qualcomm, and others have created the SaveWiFi campaign, providing instructions on how to submit a formal complaint to the FCC regarding this proposed rule. The comment period is closing on September 8, 2015. Leave a comment for the FCC.

Administration Seeks To Make Unauthorized Streaming A Felony 398

wabrandsma writes "From the Washington Post: 'You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony. As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.'"

Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Until After Congressional Elections 600

theodp writes "If you hoped your employer would finally provide health insurance in 2014, take two aspirin and call your doctor in the morning — the morning of January 1st, 2015. The Obama administration will delay a crucial provision of its signature health-care law until 2015, giving businesses an extra year to comply with a requirement that they provide their workers with insurance. The government will postpone enforcement of the so-called employer mandate until 2015, after the congressional elections, the administration said Tuesday. Under the provision, companies with 50 or more workers face a fine of as much as $3,000 per employee if they don't offer affordable insurance."
The Almighty Buck

D.C. Awards Obamacare IT Work To Offshore Outsourcer 402

dcblogs writes "Infosys, an India-based offshore IT outsourcing firm, recently announced that it had won a $49.5 million contract to develop a health benefit exchange for the District of Columbia. The contract was awarded to a U.S.-based Infosys subsidiary, Infosys Public Services. That's one of the larger government contracts won by an offshore outsourcing firm, but it's unclear whether any of the work will be done overseas. The District isn't disclosing any contract details. An FOIA request for the contract has been submitted. Infosys is one of the largest users of H-1B visas, and has been under a grand jury investigation for its use of B1 visitor visas."
The Military

U.S. Army Block Access To The Guardian's Website Over NSA Leaks 331

New submitter crashcy writes "According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army, the military organization is 'blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper's reports about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of data about Americans' email and phone communications.' The spokesman goes on to state that it is routine to block access where classified materials may be distributed. The term used was 'network hygiene.' 'Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in "labor intensive" work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer's hard drive. He wrote that an employee who downloads classified information could face disciplinary action if found to have knowingly downloaded the material on an unclassified computer.'"

Use Tor, Get Targeted By the NSA 451

An anonymous reader sends this news from Ars Technica: "Using online anonymity services such as Tor or sending encrypted e-mail and instant messages are grounds for U.S.-based communications to be retained by the National Security Agency, even when they're collected inadvertently, according to a secret government document published Thursday. ...The memos outline procedures NSA analysts must follow to ensure they stay within the mandate of minimizing data collected on U.S. citizens and residents. While the documents make clear that data collection and interception must cease immediately once it's determined a target is within the U.S., they still provide analysts with a fair amount of leeway. And that leeway seems to work to the disadvantage of people who take steps to protect their Internet communications from prying eyes. For instance, a person whose physical location is unknown—which more often than not is the case when someone uses anonymity software from the Tor Project—"will not be treated as a United States person, unless such person can be positively identified as such, or the nature or circumstances of the person's communications give rise to a reasonable belief that such person is a United States person," the secret document stated.'"

Verizon Ordered To Provide All Customer Data To NSA 609

Rick Zeman writes "According to Wired, an order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court '...requires Verizon to give the NSA metadata on all calls within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign countries on an "ongoing, daily basis" for three months.' Unlike orders in years past, there's not even the pretense that one of the parties needed to be in a foreign country. It is unknown (but likely) that other carriers are under the same order."

DHS Can Seize Your Electronics Within 100 Mi.of US Border, Says DHS 597

dreamstateseven writes "In a not-so-unexpected move, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that travelers along the nation's borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security. According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The memo highlights the friction between today's reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government's stated quest for national security. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation's actual border."

Government Surveillance Growing, According To Google 105

SternisheFan writes with news that Google has updated is Transparency Report for the sixth time, and the big takeaway this time around is a significant increase in government surveillance. From the article: "In a blog post, Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou says, ' [G]overnment demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report.' In the first half of 2012, the period covered in the report, Chou says there were 20,938 inquiries from government organizations for information about 34,614 Google-related accounts. Google has a long history of pushing back against governmental demands for data, going back at least to its refusal to turn over search data to the Department of Justice in 2005. Many other companies have chosen to cooperate with government requests rather than question or oppose them, but Chou notes that in the past year, companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Twitter have begun making government information requests public, to inform the discussion about Internet freedom and its limits. According to the report, the U.S. continues to make the most requests for user data, 7,969 in the first six months of the year. Google complied with 90% of these requests. Google's average compliance rate for the 31 countries listed in the report is about 47%."

Creeping Government Surveillance Now Without Warrants 78

CuteSteveJobs writes "The Age reports on creeping Australian government surveillance, beginning with the first operation launched on a baseless rumor. Six decades later the still-unaware victim read five months of transcripts with deep distress. Two decades ago few Australians would have consented to carrying a government-accessible tracking device, but phone and tablet data accessible without a warrant includes historic and real-time location data. In 2010-2011 there were 250,000 warrantless accesses by Federal agencies including ASIO, AFP, the Tax Office, Defence, Immigration, Citizenship, Health, Ageing, and Medicare. This is 18 times the rate of similar requests in the U.S."

Federal Court Rejects NDAA's Indefinite Detention, Issues Injunction 301

First time accepted submitter Arker writes "A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction late Wednesday to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism. The Obama administration had argued, inter alia, that the plaintiffs, including whistleblower and transparency advocate Daniel Ellsberg and Icelandic Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir lacked standing, but Judge Katherine Forrest didnt buy it. Given recent statements from the administration, it seems safe to say this will be the start of a long court battle."
The Almighty Buck

MIT Institute's Gloomy Prediction: 'Global Economic Collapse' By 2030 816

suraj.sun writes "A new study from researchers at Jay W. Forrester's institute at MIT says that the world could suffer from 'global economic collapse' and 'precipitous population decline' if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace. The study's researchers created a computing model to forecast different scenarios based on the current models of population growth and global resource consumption, different levels of agricultural productivity, birth control and environmental protection efforts. Most of the computer scenarios found population and economic growth continuing at a steady rate until about 2030. But without 'drastic measures for environmental protection,' the scenarios predict the likelihood of a population and economic crash."

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