The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation issued a report yesterday on the data broker industry. The Committee looked into nine of the biggest brokers, and took testimony from various privacy rights groups. The document highlights the collection of deeply personal information of consumers, like medical and financial records. This isn’t necessarily new information, but the report highlights just how much information these companies have – and how little they sell it for. The report caught the eye of the American Civil Liberties Union, which described it as revealing “the real harms” of data aggregation.
In case you missed it: Yesterday, Ben and Ritika linked you to the report that by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. Ben tells us why the report is down right awkward. Here’s the Times take on the report. Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics details the – mostly positive – reactions to the report on the Hill.
Amnesty International put out a troubling report of its own this morning. It claims that rebels in Syria are torturing and killing civilians, including children. Amnesty focuses specifically on the rebel group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a group that is most prominent in Northern Syria. The report highlights horrifying accounts of individuals detained in secret prisons set up by ISIS:
The accounts they gave provide a chilling picture of conditions in detention facilities run by ISIS in northern Syria. The former detainees described how they and others were seized arbitrarily by armed men wearing masks and carted off to places of detention whose location they frequently did not know and where they had no contact with their families or the outside world. Often, they had little idea why they had been detained and only fears as to what might become of them. Some encountered children in detention, including boys who were threatened and flogged; one spoke of being present in a cell with a father as he heard his 13-year-old son apparently being tortured but was powerless to act.
The Huffington Post takes a close look at the provisions that deal with Guantanamo Bay in the defense bill that is set to pass through the Senate this week. The bill presents a bi-partisan compromise that would make it easier to transport certain detainees out of the facility, but does not make great strides in definitively shutting GTMO down for good.
A military judge has halted the pre-trial hearing of the 9/11 case, owing to an inquiry into the mental state of 9/11 accused Ramzi bin al Shibh. After multiple instances of disruptions over the past week, Army Col. James L. Pohl has ordered that al Shibh is to receive a mental health evaluation before the case can continue. The Miami Herald broke the news earlier today; Wells posted on the development, too.
President Obama is apparently slated to appoint long-time Senator Max Baucus of Montana to the post of U.S. ambassador to China.
The AP has a story on the Muslim Sisterhood, the women’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group has been protesting heavily against the July removal of ousted President Morsi, a change against the groups historically more passive role.
Samantha Power, the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, has arrived in the Central African Republic. The African country has been plagued with sectarian violence since late in the summer. Reuters also has the story and more on the ongoing crisis in the CAR.
Are Presidents Obama and George W. Bush more similar than we think? Politico argues the two presidents share the same “blues”: “They’re two presidents dogged by crises largely of their own making, whose welcome with Americans has worn thin after two marathon elections.” It’s not a pretty picture.