• FBI unable to break 109 encrypted messages Texas terror attack suspect sent ahead of attack

    FBI director James Comey told lawmakers this week that one of the suspects in the foiled terror attack in Garland, Texas, in May had exchanged 109 messages with sources in a “terrorist location” overseas ahead of the attack. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, however, have not been able to break into and read those messages because they were exchanged on devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software which, security services in the United States and Europe argue, make it impossible to monitor and track terrorists and criminals.

  • Civil liberties coalition condemns cybersecurity bill

    Civil libertarians in the United States have a new ally in the fight against the new surveillance bill now being considered in Congress: librarians. The critics of the bill call it both “unhelpful” and “dangerous to Americans’ civil liberties.” House speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has been actively pushing for reconciliation of two bills, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement with the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA), which passed a Senate vote in October.

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  • Paris attacks expose weaknesses in Europe’s security structure

    The 13 November attacks in Paris offered a painful demonstration of Europe’s security loopholes which the terrorists exploited to their advantage. The attacks should serve as a wake-up call to Europeans that the continental security structure, built in another era, is no longer sufficient and needs to be adapted to new circumstances. Whether or not such adaptations can be made, and made in time before the terrorists decide to launch another attack, is an open question.

  • Large-scale face-search technology helps in fighting crime, terrorism

    The rapid growth in surveillance cameras is resulting in millions of face images and videos captured every day. The ability quickly and accurately to search all these images to assist in identifying criminal and terrorism suspects is an important and complex task that can contribute to making communities safer. To help in this effort, MSU has licensed its large-scale, automatic face-search system to NEC Corp.

  • NSA’s bulk metadata collection program ends

    The NSA on Sunday ended its controversial surveillance program, initiated by the George W. Bush administration in 2006, which collected the metadata of all communications in the United States. The creation of the bulk collection program was the result of criticism by the 9/11 Commission, and many security experts, who argued that the information about the nineteen 9/11 terrorists was available, but that law enforcement and intelligence agencies lacked structure and procedure which would have allowed them to “connect the dots.”

  • New partnership to advance unmanned systems research, pilot testing

    Indiana State University and Raleigh, North Carolina-based PrecisionHawk have signed a research and development partnership that aims to advance the unmanned aerial systems industry from multidisciplinary perspectives. The collaboration will focus on safety, education, training, and algorithm development for PrecisionHawk’s DataMapper aerial data software.

  • Tech companies: weakening encryption would only help the bad guys

    Leading technology companies — Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Twitter, Facebook, and fifty-six other technology companies — have joined forces to campaign against weakening end-to-end encryption, insisting that any weakening of encryption would be “exploited by the bad guys.” Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook recently asserted that “any backdoor is a backdoor for everyone.”

  • After Paris, it’s traditional detective work that will keep us safe, not mass surveillance

    Before the dust has even settled from the attacks on Paris, familiar calls for greater surveillance powers are surfacing. The desire for greater security is understandable, but that doesn’t mean we should suspend our judgement on the measures proposed to bring it about. It’s widely accepted that intelligence work is the most effective form of counter-terrorism, and that the best intelligence comes from community engagement, not coercion. So we must be wary of the evangelism of those pushing technological solutions to security problems, and the political clamor for mass surveillance.

  • Telegram 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.

  • Paris 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.