Skip to content

Category Archives: Surveillance

Harvard Event with Bruce Schneier and Edward Snowden

By
Monday, January 26, 2015 at 12:20 PM

On Friday, the former spoke by videolink with the latter, about (unsurprisingly enough) surveillance, privacy and data security. Youtube has a video of their discussion:

The State of the Union on Counterterrorism: Does The Rhetoric Match the Policies?

By
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 4:28 PM

On counterterrorism, the President’s speech was a study in mismatches—as was apparent last night in at least two respects. First: The address began with an odd intermix of statements related, on one hand, to the economy, and on the other hand, to post-9/11 military engagement and the subsequent end of the wars in Afghanistan and . . .
Read more »

The French Response to Terror: Counterterrorism Detention and Prosecutions Across the Atlantic

By
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery, Western European security forces unleashed a dizzying storm of arrests and prosecutions and announced “exceptional” new measures to combat terrorism. In the space of just a few days, dozens of suspects were detained in Belgium, France and Germany, many of whom were questioned for days without . . .
Read more »

The NRC’s Bulk Collection Report: a High-Level Overview

By
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Last week, Wells noted the release of an important, 85-page report by the National Research Council. (Yesterday, Herb Lin added his thoughts about it.) Broadly, Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options concludes that right now, there are no software-based techniques that could fully replace the bulk collection of data. Below, I offer a high-level, . . .
Read more »

What David Cameron Doesn’t Get

By
Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Last week British Prime Minister David Cameron gave an extraordinary speech in which he urged the the banning of private communications, that is communications to which the government could not listen into when legally authorized to do so. Cameron is not the first government official to do so; GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan urged the same . . .
Read more »

National Academies Report on Bulk Signals Intelligence

By
Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:58 AM

On January 15, 2015, the National Research Council released a report entitled Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options. Responding to PPD-28, the document was requested by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to “assess the feasibility of creating software that would allow the Intelligence Community more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition . . .
Read more »

New NSA Documents on Offensive Cyberoperations

By
Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 2:10 PM

Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and others have another NSA aticle with an enormous Snowden document dump on Der Spiegel, giving details on a variety of offensive NSA cyberoperations to infiltrate and exploit networks around the world. There’s a lot here: 199 pages. (Here it is in one compressed archive.) Paired with the 666 pages released . . .
Read more »

President Obama Comments on Back-doors in Encryption

By
Friday, January 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

We’ve yet to find a transcript of President Obama’s remarks during today’s press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but according to several news outlets, the President made a number of interesting statements regarding cybersecurity and data encryption. “If we get into a situation which the technologies do not allow us at all to track . . .
Read more »

A Response to Bruce Schneier and a Cautious Defense of Energy in the Executive

By
Friday, January 16, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Bruce Schneier has responded to my earlier exchange with Edward Snowden with a challenging question: Putting aside what the Constitution currently does or does permit, wouldn’t it be better if all surveillance decisions were subject to judicial review? Shouldn’t we prefer philosophically an executive bound to formal review mechanisms in all coercive activities—even, say, in overseas surveillance . . .
Read more »

NRC Study on (The Lack of) Software-Based Replacements for Bulk Collection

By
Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:34 AM

Scientific Computing had this news yesterday, about the important DNI-ordered study from the National Research Council: WASHINGTON, DC — No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report from the National . . .
Read more »

Why Are Commentators So Quick to Call Paris a Lone Wolf Attack?

By
Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 5:30 PM

Although new facts are emerging each day, and we can anticipate that the facts will continue to develop, I have been surprised by recent commentary (this for example), suggesting that the Paris attacks are indicative of the “lone wolf” phenomenon. In my view, it is too soon to tell whether the attacks were directed, controlled, sponsored . . .
Read more »

Did the FBI Just Prevent an Attack in DC from a Homegrown ISIS Supporter?

By
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

A very, very big arrest in Cincinnati today, involving allegations that a man named Christopher Cornell (online alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah) had planned to travel to DC in order to carry out an attack (via assault rifle) at the Capitol. It appears Cornell was arrested today after he purchased two ArmaLite M-15s. How did the . . .
Read more »

FBI Director James Comey’s Remarks at International Conference on Cyber Security

By
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 5:55 PM

Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey delivered a speech entitled “Addressing the Cyber Security Threat” at the International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University. During the speech, Director Comey doubled down on the FBI’s assertion that North Korea was behind the cyber attack on Sony Pictures, saying the hackers who attacked Sony had operated on . . .
Read more »

An Overview of the NSA’s Declassified Intelligence Oversight Board Reports

By and
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 4:06 PM

As reported last month, the NSA in late December declassified more than ten years of NSA quarterly reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB). In them, the NSA lists, with varying degrees of detail and redaction, suspected violations of policies intended to ensure that the NSA’s intelligence gathering activities are in conformity with its . . .
Read more »

Who Else May Be Working with the French?

By
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 12:23 PM

Reuters reports: FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday said the U.S. agency is working with French law enforcement to bring those responsible for the attack on satirical publication Charlie Hebdo to justice. No surprise there, since President Obama promised “every bit of assistance that we can going forward.” Every bit of assistance the U.S. government can . . .
Read more »

Obstacles Loom for States’ Proposed “Fourth Amendment Protection” Laws

By
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Legislators in several states have proposed bills over the past year intended to hamper the NSA’s efforts to collect signals intelligence.  In Utah, the site of a large NSA data center, a proposed bill would prevent the state, its cities, and its agencies from providing “material support or assistance in any form to any federal . . .
Read more »

Quick Responses to Schneier on Attribution in the Sony Hack

By
Monday, January 5, 2015 at 2:04 PM

Bruce Schneier has two typically fine new essays on the Sony hack.  The first (at the Atlantic.com) argues that “we still don’t know who’s behind” the Sony hack, and the second (at Time.com) explains why the government should “be much more forthcoming about its evidence” about attribution.  I generally agree.  But matters are even more complex . . .
Read more »

NSA Releases IG Reports on Possibly Illegal Agency Activities

By
Friday, December 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

On December 23, the NSA released a set of redacted reports detailing “intelligence activities . . . that [it has] reason to believe may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive,” reports which had been submitted to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) pursuant to Executive Order 12333. The declassification includes quarterly . . .
Read more »

Did Edward Snowden Call for Abolishing the Intelligence Community?

By
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Forget North Korea. Forget the Islamic State. Forget the Iranian nuclear program. I want to tell you about my exchange with Edward Snowden—and the amazing things he seems to have said in it. The exchange took place a couple of weeks ago, when I appeared as a last-minute sub-in on a panel at the Cato . . .
Read more »

District Court Suppresses Pole Camera Surveillance Footage

By
Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Twitter brings news of this interesting little order in United States v. Vargas.  The court’s opinion was authored by Judge Edward F. Shea and opens: The first duty of government is the safety of its people—by Constitutional means and methods. Technology, including the means for covert surveillance of individuals through the use of a hidden video camera . . .
Read more »