Surveillance | Homeland Security Newswire

  • SurveillanceHolding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance

    By Adam Conner-Simons

    When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many of these orders never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability. MIT researchers have proposed a new cryptographic system, using cryptography on a public log of wiretap requests, which encourages government transparency.

  • SurveillanceSpotting spies in the sky

    The use of drones for surveillance is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Researchers have developed the first technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video. The new technology addresses increasing concerns about the proliferation of drone use for personal and business applications and how it is impinging on privacy and safety.

  • CybersecurityCongress must adopt stronger safeguards for wireless cybersecurity: Expert

    Thanks to the advent of cell phones, tablets and smart cars, Americans are increasingly reliant on wireless services and products. Yet despite digital technology advancements, security and privacy safeguards for consumers have not kept pace. One expert told lawmakers that Congress should take immediate action to address threats caused by cell-site simulators by “ensuring that, when Congress spends about a billion taxpayer dollars on wireless services and devices each year, it procures services and devices that implement cybersecurity best practices.”

  • The president & the intelligence communityDonald Trump’s fight with his own intelligence services will only get worse

    By Dan Lomas

    Those wanting a robust response by the United States to Russian foreign policy in Europe and the Middle East were worried about the Trump. But the worst was yet to come: in an extraordinary 46-minute joint news conference after the two men met, Trump refused to support the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia had intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. While it’s foolhardy to predict the future at the best of times, never mind under the Trump administration, it’s certain that America’s spies and President Trump face a stormy future.

  • DronesDrones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines

    It is estimated that there are at least 100 million military munitions and explosives of concern devices in the world, of various size, shape and composition. Millions of these are surface plastic landmines with low-pressure triggers, such as the mass-produced Soviet PFM-1 “butterfly” landmine. Drones could be used to detect dangerous “butterfly” landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries.

  • DronesLos Alamos lab designated “No Drone Zone,” deploys counter-drone systems

    Loa Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) over its restricted airspace and an additional FAA designated “No Drone Zone.” The Counter-UAS program at Los Alamos will be the blueprint for future programs at three other NNSA sites. Systems are planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.

  • DronesRecommended: An action plan on U.S. drone policy

    Drones have become a mainstay of U.S. counterterrorism operations and national security policy writ large. The Obama administration popularized the use of armed drones, and U.S. drone policy have only become more salient during the Trump administration – but the Trump administration’s approach to U.S. drone policy has thus far revealed a desire to roll back some of the principles, procedures, and guidelines put in place by the Obama administration.

  • EncryptionThe ENCRYPT Act protects encryption from U.S. state prying

    By David Ruiz

    It’s not just the DOJ and the FBI that want to compromise your right to private communications and secure devices—some state lawmakers want to weaken encryption, too. In recent years, a couple of state legislatures introduced bills to restrict or outright ban encryption on smartphones and other devices. Fortunately, several Congress members recently introduced their own bill to stop this dangerous trend before it goes any further.

  • DronesDoes the government really need this much power to deal with an attack of the drones?

    By India McKinney and Andrew Crocker

    Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (S. 2836), which would give DOJ and DHS sweeping new authority to counter malicious drones. Among other things, the bill would authorize DOJ and DHS to “track,” “disrupt,” “control,” “seize or otherwise confiscate,” or even “destroy” unmanned aircraft that pose a “threat” to certain facilities or areas in the U.S. Given the breadth of these proposed new powers, you would expect officials to have a strong case for passing the bill. But even after the hearing, it’s not clear why DHS and DOJ need any expanded authority to go after “malicious” drones.

  • DronesNIST boosts drone forensics with new data on its website

    Aerial drones might someday deliver online purchases to your home. But in some prisons, drone delivery is already a thing. Drones have been spotted flying drugs, cell phones and other contraband over prison walls, and in several cases, drug traffickers have used drones to ferry narcotics across the border. If those drones are captured, investigators will try to extract data from them that might point to a suspect.

  • SurveillanceHART: Homeland Security’s massive new database will include face recognition, DNA, and peoples’ “non-obvious relationships”

    By Jennifer Lynch

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.

  • Considered opinion: Data & national securityCorporate data collection and U.S. national security: Expanding the conversation in an era of nation state cyber aggression

    By Carrie Cordero

    What has the Russia investigation revealed about risks inherent in mass private data collection? Carrie Cordero writes that one thing we learned from the Russia investigation is that we may be framing the conversation about corporate data collection too narrowly. “Based on what we have learned publicly so far about the Russian election interference, it is worth pausing to reflect on the national security implications of corporate data collection and aggregation as it relates to the collection of individual, private citizens’ data,” she says. “Although the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and special counsel investigations are not yet complete, we know enough already about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to understand that data collected from private companies and organizations can be accessed, exposed and potentially misused in a way that is harmful to the country’s institutional stability. At the very least, its misuse sows distrust and confusion. At worst, it shreds the institutional and societal fabric that holds the country together.”

  • SurveillanceCivil liberties organizations urge transparency on NSA domestic phone record surveillance

    Last week, twenty-four civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, urging him to report—as required by law—statistics that could help clear up just how many individuals are subject to broad NSA surveillance of domestic telephone records. According to the most recent transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the NSA collected more than 530 million call records in 2017, an increase of more than 300 percent from the year prior.

  • Considered opinion: Sources and methods“The day that we can't protect human sources”: The president and the House Intelligence Committee burn an informant

    By Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes

    It wasn’t that long ago that both the executive branch and the legislature considered the protection of intelligence sources a matter of surpassing national importance. In 1982 Congress passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which criminalized the knowing and intentional outing of U.S. covert operatives and intelligence sources whom the government is taking active steps to protect. So what happens, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write in Lawfare , “when the intentional outing of U.S. intelligence assets is the province not of rogue insiders, not of foreign hackers or foreign agents, not of people who end up spending the rest of their lives as fugitives, but of senior officials in two branches of this country’s government who are most responsible for protecting those assets” — and “when they do so for frankly political reasons?”

  • DronesTesting and demonstrating drones -- and showing what they can do

    “Drones” have proven useful both for the military and the public. They can be relatively inexpensive gadgets with a variety of capabilities such as taking aerial photos and video, surveilling, and carrying objects. However, until now, DHS could not evaluate and demonstrate drones in a timely manner because of the lack of a common testing site and high costs. DHS S&T is preparing to integrate drones in DHS’ and other federal agencies’ missions by providing accessible demonstration sites for land- and maritime-based operations.