The Defense spending bill that is working it’s way thru Congress holds a bunch of cybersecurity elements. Good. WAPO has a good post on the details and it is worth the read.
Here’s some good news (relatively so), quote: “But the government stops short of using that law to collect the keywords people submit to internet search engines because it considers such terms to be content that requires a warrant to gather, according to letters produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”
And then, it just gets crazier, quote: “In May, 59 senators voted to bar the use of Section 215 to collect internet search terms or web browsing activity, but negotiations broke down in the House. During that period, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and one of the sponsors of the proposal ban, wrote to the director of national intelligence seeking clarity about any such use. Six months later, the Trump administration finally replied — initially, it turned out, in a misleading way. In a Nov. 6 letter to Mr. Wyden, John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, wrote that Section 215 was not used to gather internet search terms, and that none of the 61 orders issued last year under that law by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court involved collection of “web browsing” records.”
Wyden sent the letter to NYT, and they (like reporters are supposed to do) pushed on Ratcliffe to provide greater clarity. Comes out that the earlier statement was not so accurate, quote: “In fact, “one of those 61 orders resulted in the production of information that could be characterized as information regarding browsing,” Mr. Ratcliffe wrote in the second letter. Specifically, one order had approved collection of logs revealing which computers “in a specified foreign country” had visited “a single, identified U.S. web page.” Mr. Ratcliffe expressed regret “that this additional information was not included in my earlier letter” to the senator, and suggested his staff might take further “corrective action.” In fact, “one of those 61 orders resulted in the production of information that could be characterized as information regarding browsing,” Mr. Ratcliffe wrote in the second letter. Specifically, one order had approved collection of logs revealing which computers “in a specified foreign country” had visited “a single, identified U.S. web page.”
He (Ratcliffe) tried to make it sound trivial, but … yikes!
Wyden is all over it and pushing a change to statue, quote: “The Wyden-Daines amendment had fallen one vote short of the supermajority it needed to be attached to the bill in the Senate. But similarly minded lawmakers in the House then sought to vote on attaching the same language to the bill in their chamber.”
Progress is stalled. Please contact your senator and representative and indicate your support for greater privacy legislation that actually is in step with the current technology. Wyden is a hero in this space, imho.