• Encryption & terroristsTelegram IM app recalibrates policies after Paris attacks

    Pavel Durov, the creator of the popular instant messaging app Telegram, has said that following the Paris terrorist attacks, his company has blocked dozens of accounts associated with the jihadist Islamic State group. As is the case with other technology companies, Telegram is trying to negotiate the balance between privacy and security: the same privacy-enhancing technology which keeps customers’ communication private, also helps terrorists communicate with each other and plot attacks safe from monitoring and surveillance by intelligence agencies and law enforcement.

  • EncryptionParis terrorist attacks reignite debate over end-to-end encryption, back doors

    The exact way the terrorists who attacked France last Friday communicated with each other, and their handlers, in the run-up to the attack is not yet clear, but the attack has prompted law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Europe and the United States to renew their call to regulate the use of new encryption technologies which allow users to “go dark” and make it difficult, if not altogether impossible, to retrieve the contents of communication.

  • SurveillanceFacebook: Governments’ demanding more user data, content restrictions

    Facebook says that governments’ requests for information and for the removal of content have increased in the first half of 2015. Such requests have substantially increased in the last two years, since the company began releasing such information. The number of accounts for which governments around the world have requested account data jumped 18 percent in the first half of 2015, to 41,214 accounts, up from 35,051 requests in the second half of 2014.

  • SurveillanceLawmakers want to know scope of federal agencies’ use of cellphone tracking technology

    Members of the House Oversight Committee on Monday sent letters to the heads of twenty-four federal agencies asking them whether or not their agencies employ the StingRay cell phone tracking technology. The technology simulates a cell phone tower so it can collect information on mobile phones and their users. The letters are indicative of a growing unease with the unregulated use of the technology by federal agencies.

  • SurveillanceGerman spy agency spied on FBI, UN bodies, and German citizens: Report

    BND, Germany’s intelligence service, spied on the FBI, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, UNICEF — the UN Children’s Fund, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and the World Health Organization, among many other targets. What may upset many Germans is the fact that the list of BND surveillance targets also included German citizens. Germany has strict privacy laws and German citizens are not allowed to be spied on without a thorough review by the courts.

  • SurveillanceNSA phone metadata collection program “likely violates constitution”: Judge

    Washington, D.C. district court judge Richard Leon, ruling on Monday against the National Security Agency (NSA), said that the agency’s bulk phone metadata collection “likely violates the constitution.” Judge Leon, ruling in a case brought by conservative activist attorney Larry Klayman, said that the NSA must immediately end collecting the defendants’ information. Leon said he believed it was “substantially likely” that “the program is unlawful,” and that in that event, “the plaintiffs have suffered concrete harm traceable to the challenged program.”

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  • SurveillanceU.K., U.S. responds differently to Snowden’s revelations about domestic surveillance

    Legal analysts note that the United States and the United Kingdom have responded differently to the Snowden revelations. While in the United States steps have been taken to limit the NSA’s domestic surveillance powers, the United Kingdom is going in the other direction. The British government on Wednesday published draft legislation on surveillance and investigative powers – a legislation which is the government’s response to the documents leaked by Snowden. The U.K.’s draft bill not only embeds bulk data collection in law, but it enhances the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

  • SurveillanceIRS commissioner confirms agency employs cellphone tracking devices

    IRS commissioner John Koskinen on Tuesday confirmed to lawmakers that his agency employed StingRay cellphone tracking devices. Koskinen said that the agency’s use of StingRay devices is limited to its criminal investigations division, which is responsible of investigating money laundering, terrorism, and organized crime cases. “It can only be used with a court order. It can only be used based on probable cause of criminal activity,” Koskinen said, the Hill reports. “It is not used in civil matters at all,” he continued. “It’s not used by other employees of the IRS.”

  • SurveillanceIRS employed cellphone-surveillance technology

    The IRS spent $65,652 on surveillance technology which tracks people by capturing their cellphone calls through StingRays – devices which mimic legitimate cell towers. The devices are also known as IMSI-catchers or cell-tower simulators. In addition to locating cellphone users, StingRays also use the signals to identify the owner of the phone, and may also be able to capture the phone owner’s contacts, messages, and other content off the phone. More than a dozen federal agencies, and local police in twenty-two states, have also employed the technology.

  • SurveillanceEuropean Court of Justice: U.S. data systems expose users to state surveillance

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has ruled that U.S. digital data storage systems fail to provide sufficient privacy from state surveillance. The ECJ declared the American so-called safe harbor scheme “invalid.” The ruling, which is binding on all EU members states, stated that: “The United States … scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons…” The ruling will have far-reaching ramifications for the online industry and would likely lead many companies to relocate their operations.

  • EncryptionApple's encryption prevents it from complying with U.S. court order

    Apple said it could not comply with a court order to hand over texts sent using iMessage between two iPhones because the company’s encryption system makes it impossible to do so. The Justice Department persuaded the court to issue the order to facilitate an investigation involving guns and drugs. Legal experts say this is the first known direct face-off between the U.S. government and Apple over encryption. The FBI contends that such encryption puts the American public at risk because it makes it harder, if not impossible, to track and catch terrorists, pedophiles, and other criminals.

  • SurveillanceGerman prosecutors charge news Web site with treason over leaks of surveillance plan

    German authorities have launched a treason investigation into a news Web site which had reported on government plans to broaden state surveillance of online communications. This is the first time in more than fifty years that German journalists are facing treason charges for publishing leaked documents.

  • SurveillanceNSA to destroy millions of American call records collected under controversial program

    The director of national intelligence said on Monday that the NSA would no longer examine call records collected by the NSA in its controversial bulk collection program before the June reauthorization of the Patriot Act which prohibits such collection. Bulk records are typically kept for five years, but the director said that although the records in the NSA database were collected lawfully, they would not be examined, and would soon be destroyed.

  • CybersecurityJournalists’ computer security tools lacking in a post-Snowden world

    Edward Snowden’s leak of classified documents to journalists around the world about massive government surveillance programs and threats to personal privacy ultimately resulted in a Pulitzer Prize for public service. Though Snowden had no intention of hiding his identity, the disclosures also raised new questions about how effectively news organizations can protect anonymous sources and sensitive information in an era of constant data collection and tracking. Researchers found a number of security weaknesses in journalists’ and news organizations’ technological tools and ad-hoc workarounds.

  • SurveillanceIn first case of its kind, UK high court rules surveillance law unconstitutional

    By Marianne Franklin

    Controversial surveillance legislation hustled through parliament last summer has been ruled unlawful by the U.K. High Court, which argued that the vague terms and descriptions of powers in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA) renders the act incompatible with human rights under European law. DRIPA, one in a series of laws supporting controversial surveillance powers passed by successive U.K. governments, establishes the principle by which anti-terrorism measures and national security priorities take precedence over human rights considerations. However, the judgment rules that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights must take precedence, and in doing so requires the U.K. government to undo its own act of parliament — a significant precedent by a British court.