• Facebook: 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.

  • Lawmakers 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.

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  • German 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.

  • NSA 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.”

  • U.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.

  • U.K. surveillance bill debate: Judicial warrants vs. ministerial authorization for intercepts

    Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis has said that the plans to grant police and intelligence agencies new powers to monitor suspects online will not get through parliament without a requirement for judges to sign off on spying warrants. A legal report written at the request of Home Secretary Theresa May recommended that judicial warrant rather than a ministerial authorization be required for intercepting individuals’ communications. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, however, recommended in March that ministerial authorization would be preferable. A draft of a new investigatory powers bill will be published Wednesday, and May said she would “be explaining the government’s position to parliament this week.”

  • Legislation would give U.K. police powers to access U.K. computer users’ browsing history

    The U.K. police and intelligence service, ahead of the publication this coming Wednesday of legislation on regulating surveillance powers, have urged the government to give them the power to view the Internet browsing history of British computer users. Senior officers were pressuring the government to revive measures which would require telecommunications companies to retain for twelve months data which would reveal Web sites visited by customers. The police and intelligence agencies argue that such measures are necessary because the scale of online activity has made traditional methods of surveillance and investigation less useful.

  • IRS 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.”

  • IRS 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.

  • Ruling shows Europe still vexed over NSA spying, leaving U.S. companies in legal limbo

    For over fifteen years, the Data Transfer Pact between the European Union and the United States, more commonly known as Safe Harbor, had ensured that companies with EU operations could transfer online data about their employees and customers back to the United States despite stark differences between U.S. and European privacy law. Earlier this month, U.S. companies operating in Europe got some unwelcome news: Safe Harbor had been ruled invalid. The European court’s ruling has serious implications for these companies’ business models and profitability, leaving many scrambling to find solutions. But it also exposes a fundamental cultural rift between the U.S. and Europe’s conceptions of privacy – one that a new agreement won’t be able to paper over.

  • Mexico to use drones, satellites in a renewed effort to find dead students

    Mexico said it would launch a new search, joined by international experts, for the remains of dozens of students training to be teachers who were abducted and apparently massacred in 2014. Forty-three students were abducted by corrupt municipal police, and then turned over to a local drug gang to be killed. Apparently, the gang leaders believed the students were linked to a rival drug gang in the area.

  • U.S. to unveil drone registry plan in response to safety, security concerns

    As part of the U.S. aviation authorities’ effort to tackle the growing safety and security problems posed by drones, U.S. drone will soon be required to register their aircraft with the Department of Transportation. The register, to be made public on Monday, comes in response to a surge in incidents in which drones have flown near airports and crowded public venues.

  • Anti-drone defense system now features quad band RF inhibitor, optical disruptor

    The world’s first fully integrated detect-track-disrupt Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS) — launched by a trio of British companies in May this year — now features a quad band radio frequency (RF) inhibitor/jammer, an optical disruptor, and rapid deployment features in the final production version of the counter-drone system. The companies say that these enhancements follow extensive customer trials of the pre-production system across Europe and North America over the spring and summer.

  • Improving precision of drone navigation

    Researchers are working to bring a new level of precision to the navigation systems used to guide drones. The work is supported through a contract with Southern Company, one of the U.S. largest energy companies, which plans to use unmanned aircraft to enhance safety for crews in the field and improve reliability for customers. The researchers have designed a prototype which uses onboard ultrasound sensors to relay information on the aircraft’s location to its operator.

  • White House will not seek law allowing law enforcement access to encrypted messages

    The Obama administration has decided not to seek legislation which would require tech companies to design their devices in a way which would give law enforcement agencies access to individuals’ encrypted messages, the White House said on Saturday. The tech industry, led by giants Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft, has mounted a vigorous campaign opposing any administration moves to weaken ever-more-sophisticated encryption systems which are designed to protect consumers’ privacy.