• SurveillanceTelephone metadata can reveal surprisingly sensitive personal information

    Most people might not give telephone metadata – the numbers you dial, the length of your calls – a second thought. Some government officials probably view it as similarly trivial, which is why this information can be obtained without a warrant. Researchers show, however, that telephone metadata – information about calls and text messages, such as time and length – can alone reveal a surprising amount of personal detail. The work could help inform future policies for government surveillance and consumer data privacy.

  • SurveillanceHarnessing thousands of network cameras for public safety

    Researchers have developed a prototype system that could allow law enforcement and public safety agencies to tap into thousands of cameras located in numerous venues including parking garages, college campuses, national parks and highways. In addition to applications in law enforcement, the system can be used to quickly find damage, plan rescues, and other operations during natural disasters.

  • view counter
  • European securityGerman domestic intelligence needs more powers to combat terrorism: Intelligence chief

    Hans-Georg Maassen, Germany’s director of domestic intelligence, said his intelligence agency should be given more resources to fight threats from militant Islamists and right-wing extremists. He was speaking in a symposium on the growing threat of terror attacks in Germany. He said the political climate in Germany was “a lot rougher” than it used to be, as former non-voters and disaffected supporters of the established parties become radicalized against the backdrop of the refugee crisis.

  • European securityEU should establish U.S.-style intelligence agency: EU president

    The terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, just as the earlier ones in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), were a reminder that central pillars of the EU, such as the “area of freedom, security, and justice,” are being challenged. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission — the executive branch of the European Union (EU) – said that the EU member states’ mindsets and willingness to cooperate – crucial ingredients in the fight against terror – have not lived up to the challenge. The enduring lack of coordination between security services, police, and judicial authorities, at the national and the European levels, needs to be urgently tackled to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to such risks. To address and resolve these problems, and bolster European security in the face of terrorism, Juncker has proposed a European “Security Union.”

  • SurveillanceSnowden revelations led to “chilling effect” on pursuit of knowledge: Study

    By Nadia Prupis

    National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 mass surveillance revelations caused a drop in website browsing, particularly in internet searches for terms associated with extremism, an example of the most direct evidence yet that the spying operations exposed in the leak had a “chilling effect” on the lawful pursuit of information, an impending report has found.

  • SurveillancePrivacy advocacy groups ask NSA to halt changes to data sharing rules

    More than thirty organizations sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the National Security Agency, urging them to halt reported changes to the rules governing when and how the NSA can share the data it collects through overseas surveillance.

  • view counter
  • SurveillanceFour questions Belgians should ask about the Patriot Act

    By Lacey Wallace

    The Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks added a sense of urgency to calls for Belgium to enact its own counterterrorism bill. It is a call the French government has already answered. Increased use of surveillance is a worldwide trend. There is no guarantee, however, that even with the most sophisticated surveillance technology out there today, passing a bill or law to collect private information on citizens will protect us from terrorist threats and violence. Even more vexing: the nature of intelligence gathering means we may never know exactly how many attacks have been prevented by the Patriot Act, the French surveillance law — or a similar law that Belgium may soon pass.

  • EncryptionFBI may be able to break into San Bernardino terrorist’s phone without Apple’s help

    Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym has postponed until 5 April a court hearing about the FBI’s request that the court would order Apple to unlock the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. The FBI asked the judge to postpone the hearing after the agency said it may have found a way to unlock the phone without Apple’s help.

  • EncryptionApple versus FBI: All Writs Act’s age should not bar its use

    By Ronald Sievert

    A federal magistrate judge in California has issued a warrant ordering Apple to assist the FBI in accessing data on an iPhone used by a suspect in the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting. Apple’s public refusal to comply with the order – and its motion asking a judge to reverse the order – have set up a legal showdown that has captivated the technology world. It’s hard not to think that marketing and economics are at least somewhat behind Apple’s actions. But my guess is most people understand that the FBI would not be getting into their phones without a probable cause search warrant. In addition, I would think Apple would not want to have a market composed of people who want to use iPhones for dangerous and illegal activity. The company might actually lose more future customers because of its uncooperative attitude than it would ever lose by helping the government by complying with a court order.

  • EncryptionIn FBI versus Apple, government strengthened tech’s hand on privacy

    By Rahul Telang

    The ongoing fight between Apple and the FBI over breaking into the iPhone maker’s encryption system to access a person’s data is becoming an increasingly challenging legal issue. This case is very specific, and in this narrow case, Apple and law enforcement agencies will likely find a compromise. However, this question is not going away anywhere. With the “Internet of things” touted as the next big revolution, more and more devices will capture our very personal data – including our conversations. This case could be a precedent-setting event that can reshape how our data are stored and managed in the future.

  • TerrorismRefined interview technique can reveal terror plots

    An interview technique for eliciting intelligence without asking questions has in a series of experiments proven to work very well. The idea dates back to the renowned Second World War interrogator Hanns Scharff, but has now, for the first time, been empirically validated. The technique can help intelligence agencies reveal plans of future terrorist acts.

  • EncryptionMore Americans support Justice Dept. than Apple in locked iPhone dispute

    As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51 percent say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38 percent) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11 percent do not offer an opinion on the question.

  • EncryptionPasswords, privacy and protection: can Apple meet FBI’s demand without creating a ‘backdoor’?

    By H. V. Jagadish

    The point of encryption is to make decryption hard. However, hard does not mean impossible. The FBI could decrypt this data, with sufficient effort and computational power, and they could do this with no help from Apple. However, this route would be expensive, and would take some time. In effect, what they’re requesting of Apple is to make their job easier, cheaper and faster. Ultimately, how this matter gets resolved may depend more on the big-picture question of what privacy rights we as a society want for the data we record on our personal devices. Understanding the technical questions can inform this discussion.

  • SurveillanceSnowden ready to return to U.S. for “fair trial”

    Edward Snowden has told friends and supporters he was ready to return to the United States if he could be guaranteed a fair trial. Snowden said his representatives had approached the U.S. Justice Department in an effort to negotiate a plea deal, even one involving him spending time in jail. He told the BBC Panorama last year, however, that the Justice Department had made no effort to respond.

  • SurveillanceNYPD has used Stingrays since 2008 -- with lower-level court orders rather than warrants

    The NYPD has confirmed that it owns and operates Stingrays— surveillance devices that spy on cell phones nearby and which can be used to track location. In response to an NYCLU FOIL request, the NYPD disclosed it used Stingrays nearly 1,016 times between 2008 and May of 2015 without a written policy and following a practice of obtaining only lower-level court orders rather than warrants. This is the first time the extent of the use of Stingrays by the NYPD has been made public.