Director of National Intelligence report reveals number of surveillance requests in 2013
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has released a report, revealing a number of insights into the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). The report, posted on Tumblr, comes as part of a DNI directive from August 2013, itself prompted by President Obama in June of the same year, with the report listing how many information requests and surveillance-related activities have been performed by the US government in the entirety of last year.
Tech companies declared 'pawns' of US government surveillance program
Chinese state media is calling for the country's government to penalize US technology companies for their alleged roles in the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance row. The People's Daily and China Daily accuse companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple of helping the US government to monitor and threaten the security of users in China, asking for Beijing to "punish severely the pawns."
Denying visas to possible attendees considered over Chinese hacking indictment
Members of the US government are considering issuing visa restrictions on Chinese nationals seeking to attend DefCon and Black Hat. The effort would be aimed at computer hackers coming to the Las Vegas conferences from China in order to keep them from attending. These efforts would be "part of a broader effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage," an official told Reuters.
Unsealed documents involving the case allow Levison to speak on ordeal
In an interview with Democracy Now, Lavabit founder Lavar Levison was able to detail his struggle against the US government, which would eventually cause him to shut down his secure email service. Previous court documents were sealed, leaving Levison unable to comment on his experiences and court battle. A judge unsealed parts of the record this week, allowing Levison to shed light from his point of view on the story surrounding the shuttering of his venture.
Chairman's vision of 'fast lane' access may be misinterpreted by public
The Federal Communication Commission has voted on Chairman Tom Wheeler's revised net neutrality proposal, and has accepted it. Starting immediately, the US government will begin a long period of debate and public comment on the issue, which has already proven contentious amongst both Capital Hill insiders as well as the public at large.
CTTSO solicits vendors for program to aid military understanding of technologies
A division of the Department of Defense is investigating cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, for possible links to crime and terrorism activities, according to an article from the International Business Times. The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, a department responsible for developing and investigating counterterrorism abilities, created solicitation number N41756-14-Q-3272 in order attract vendors to aid military branches in understanding the developing technology.
Bitcoin miners required to declare earned virtual currency
The Internal Revenue Service has declared that Bitcoin should be classed as property for tax purposes, and not as a currency. The ruling, which clarifies the tax-related standings for its supporters, can be applied to virtual currencies, with the US government agency also stating that owners may need to pay more tax or deduct a loss depending on what happens to the value of the currency as it is owned.
Cites 'expectation of privacy' in email, says warrant was 'overly broad'
While specifics of the case have not been made public, a federal magistrate judge has issued an unusual rebuke to the US government over its request for a warrant to search the records of an unnamed @mac.com user. The request was rejected by the judge for being "overly broad" and because it "makes no effort to balance the law enforcement interests against the obvious expectation of privacy email account holders have in their communications."
Google encryption process upgraded according to Executive Chairman
At a panel in Austin, Texas during SXSW, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told the audience that the company felt "pretty sure that now the information inside of Google is safe from prying eyes, including those of the US government." This of course comes after the company completed a security system improvement, the process of which had began before the information was leaked by Edward Snowden and Britain's GCHQ data center data transmission interception.
Twitter complains over lack of detail when reporting FISA requests
Twitter has published its latest Transparency Report, detailing information requests and takedown notices, while at the same time taking the opportunity to attack the US government over its lack of transparency on national security requests. While Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and LinkedIn provided limited details about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests, Twitter has opted not to, due to its current lack of usefulness.
Signs agreement with energy conservation groups, pay-TV companies
The US Energy Department has made an agreement with energy efficiency and electronic device groups to help conserve energy. The agreement includes new non-regulatory energy efficiency standards for set-top boxes used for pay-TV, with current targets set to improve efficiency by 10 to 45 percent by 2017, allowing more than 90 million US homes to collectively save more than $1 billion on their consumer energy bills each year.
Believed to have performed Operation Payback Denial of Service attacks
The United States has indicted 13 people believed to be members of activist group Anonymous for their part in Operation Payback. Charges against the suspected members of the hacking collective range from allegations of attacking websites connected to the government, lobbyists, and credit card companies, as a protest against the shutdown of The Pirate Bay.
Accreditation of Windows Phone 8 brings it in line with Apple, Samsung
The Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system has earned a key government accreditation, allowing it to be used on secure networks operated by the US government. The FIPS 140-2 certification allows for Windows Phone devices to come under consideration for governmental organizations to use in situations requiring security and the use of encrypted communications.
Apple, Google, Microsoft all involved; demanding more reports
A growing coalition of technology companies are reportedly petitioning the President and the US government to demand information and increased transparency of intelligence service communications monitoring. The letter declares the intent to regularly reveal information to the public about government surveillance requests, and is demanding the government also report the number of requests about users, the number of accounts or devices for which information was requested, and the volume of requests seeking content or other subscriber information.
FIPS 14-2 certification, STIG approval opening DoD doors
Apple's iPhones, iPads and other devices running iOS 6 or higher are officially cleared for use on the US government's secure networks, the Department of Defence announced on Friday. The final approval, which we first reported on in March, also grants Samsung Android devices that are running the Korean company's Knox security lockdown, as well as BlackBerry devices running BB10 the ability to be used on secure networks. The move is expected to further hurt BlackBerry, as it faces competition in the military space for the first time.
Founder Ren Zhengfei claims Huawei not connected to US security issues
The founder and president of Huawei has made a rare appearance in front of reporters to defend his company. Ren Zhengfei spoke out against claims made by the US government that it is a national security risk, due to apparent close ties with the Chinese government, and allegations that Huawei equipment could have allowed sensitive details to be passed to Chinese agencies.
Sources close to budget reveal $5 million savings with cancellation
With the US government sequester underway, many if not all, federal divisions are seeing budget reductions -- with the Department of Defense (DoD) seeing a mandatory 11 percent cut. Electronista has learned that the DoD testing program previously announced at the end of February will continue with Android and iOS devices, leaving BlackBerry 10 devices mostly out in the cold. The change in plan, and the near-complete cessation of the BlackBerry 10 testing is said to save the DoD millions in procurement and personnel costs.
Modifications made to secure devices, prevent data theft
Government contractor and security firm CACI International has modified thousands of iPads so that they meet US government security requirements, according to CACI CEO Dan Allen. The Arlington, VA company secures the devices by physically altering the hardware, rather than through software modifications. Federal iPad users include President Barack Obama, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.
Search engine giant accused of antitrust violations with FRAND patents
A staff report from the Federal Trade Commission has reportedly recommended that the US government pursue legal remedies against Google for violating antitrust laws. The review sprung from fears that Google is demanding sales embargoes against products that use patents required to be licensed under fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms (FRAND) terms rather than engage in the required good-faith negotiations legally required by owners holding standards-essential patents.
Unclassified servers penetrated, isolated from rest of network
The US Government is attempting to cool down rumors that hackers linked to the Chinese government penetrated the White House Military Office's (WHMO) network. The WHMO is responsible for presidential travel arrangements, and all communications with military units from the White House. A White House source denies the allegation, claiming that the spear phishing attack hit an unclassified network associated with the military office, and there is no evidence any classified information was stolen.
Claims company not served correctly and due process rights violated
Megaupload has filed a motion to dismiss all US Government charges, potentially bringing the case to an end. According to Torrent Freak, the legal team for the file repository argues that the US has violated Megaupload's due process rights by destroying the business while not properly serving the company. The motion comes a day after a New Zealand court demanded full disclosure of all evidence held by the US in a case seeking extradition of Kim “Dotcom” Schlitz and other executives.
Apple 11th place among tech firms
Politico reports that Apple has spent only $500,000 on federal lobbying and associated governmental programs thus far in 2012. By contrast, political action committees (PAC) formed by Google have dropped $5 million, and a separate Microsoft PAC has doled out $1.8 million in the same time period. Sources within Washington suggest that Apple will have a rocky road with DC lawmakers unless they start building a "Washington brand."
Funding promises to help "pressing challenges"
The Obama administration has announced a "Big Data" research and development initiative. The endeavor aims to improve the ability to "extract knowledge and insights" from large data sets and help solve some of the nation's "most pressing challenges."
Company apologizes for lack of warning
Verizon has apologized for the recent "civil emergency" alerts that were sent to cellphones used by New Jersey residents in several counties. The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) had warned many users of a civil emergency "extreme alert" in their local counties. The warning was attributed to the US government and ordered individuals to "take shelter now."
Government site unresponsive
Hacker group LulzSec has claimed responsibility for problems at the US government's CIA website, which was briefly unreachable before service was restored late in the day. The group is also credited with hacking into the Senate website over the weekend and downloading information, though Martina Bradford, the deputy Senate sergeant at arms, told Reuters "they're getting nothing."
House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus asks questions
Facebook has been asked to answer US Government questions regarding the way user data is handled through third-party apps. According to the Wall Street Journal, two members of the House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus have asked Facebook to explain the way that “third-party applications gathered and transmitted personally identifiable information about Facebook users and those users’ friends.”
iPhones may be on the Hill
US State Senator may have a trendy new gadget next year, as congress is considering the iPhone as its newest communication device. TheHill.com is reporting that Congress's Chief Administrative Office (CAO), the office in charge of congressional communications, is testing a set of iPhones among its ranks to see if the device will function within the needs of Capital Hill representatives and support staff.