The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

U.S. Spy Agencies Losing Carte Blanche for Digital Data Gathering?

Congress looks to make the NSA’s snooping more transparent while security researchers challenge the notion that gathering metadata doesn’t invade privacy

2 min read
U.S. Spy Agencies Losing Carte Blanche for Digital Data Gathering?
Image: iStockPhoto

This Week in Cybercrime

Until the revelations based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden came to light, the world had to take U.S. intelligence agencies’ word that they were adhering to legal limits on domestic and foreign data gathering. Now that we know better, all of the assurances they’ve made about the nature of their surveillance programs are under scrutiny. One such conceit—that the collection of metadata shouldn’t be viewed as surveillance—is being put to the test by researchers at the Stanford Security Lab at Stanford University. A new project, called Metaphone, will use metadata collected from the cellphones of volunteers to see how much additional information can be discovered when starting with logs of phone calls and text messages.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate began debate this week over the Surveillance Transparency Act introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). The bill would require that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) make revelations of its own. Among them: how broad a net it is casting in its data collection programs; what proportion of the people having their data collected are U.S. citizens or permanent residents; and whose information was actually reviewed by a government agent. The legislation would also eliminate the gag orders that prevent phone and Internet companies from divulging the number of orders they receive demanding customer data and the number of requests with which they comply.

More On the U.S. Government and Digital Surveillance

Data Insecurity Heightened by Government-Installed Backdoors In Hardware, Software, and Networks, says New Report

Google Fielded More Than 10 000 User Data Requests from the U.S. Government in the First Half of 2013—More Than Twice the Number of Requests Received in 2010

State Obamacare Exchanges Not Secure

Obamacare Update: Security Expert says State Healthcare Insurance Exchanges “Built In Such a Way as to Almost Attract Attackers"

In Other Cybercrime News…

New Microsoft Cybercrime Center Puts Security Engineers, Digital Forensics Experts, and Lawyers Trained in Fighting Cybercrime All Under One Roof

Hackers Steal $1.2 Million from Australian Bitcoin Wallet

Facebook Posts Alert Telling Potential Adobe Hack Victims to Reset Their Passwords

Internet Explorer 11 and Google Chrome Hacked at Mobile Pwn2Own

Security Researchers Say Svpeng, an Android banking Trojan Created by Russian Hackers, Can Phish for Bank Card Access Credentials and Issue Commands to Empty Victims’ Accounts

Microsoft Provides Patch for Windows Vulnerability Discovered in the Wake of a Watering Hole Attack Targeting Visitors of an Unnamed U.S.-based Domestic and Foreign Security Policy Website

 

The Conversation (0)

How Police Exploited the Capitol Riot’s Digital Records

Forensic technology is powerful, but is it worth the privacy trade-offs?

11 min read
Vertical
 Illustration of the silhouette of a person with upraised arm holding a cellphone in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Superimposed on the head is a green matrix, which represents data points used for facial recognition
Gabriel Zimmer
Green

The group of well-dressed young men who gathered on the outskirts of Baltimore on the night of 5 January 2021 hardly looked like extremists. But the next day, prosecutors allege, they would all breach the United States Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Several would loot and destroy media equipment, and one would assault a policeman.

No strangers to protest, the men, members of the America First movement, diligently donned masks to obscure their faces. None boasted of their exploits on social media, and none of their friends or family would come forward to denounce them. But on 5 January, they made one piping hot, family-size mistake: They shared a pizza.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}