Ellen Nakashima

Senate passes FISA surveillance reform bill, paving way for House passage

The Senate adopted a package of surveillance reforms its backers say will help rein in abuses, following an inspector general report that found fault with the FBI’s handling of an investigation into a former Trump campaign aide. The 80-to-16 vote paves the way for final House passage of the bill to renew the USA Freedom Act.

House passes compromise bill on surveillance reform

The US House of Representatives approved legislation that would institute some reforms of the government’s surveillance authority while also imposing new requirements on the way the FBI obtains wiretapping warrants in national security investigations following criticism of its monitoring of a Trump campaign adviser in 2016. The bill also permanently bans a controversial but dormant program that allowed the government to obtain Americans’ phone records in terrorism investigations.

In a first, appeals court raises privacy questions over government searches for Americans’ emails

The government’s warrantless collection of emails and other Internet data for national security purposes is lawful, but searching that information for Americans’ communications raises constitutional privacy questions, a federal appeals court in New York ruled. At issue is an appeal by a former Brooklyn man who pleaded guilty to supporting a foreign terrorist group and now is seeking to overturn his conviction, saying the evidence against him was obtained through warrantless surveillance that violated the Fourth Amendment.

Repeated mistakes in phone record collection led NSA to shutter controversial program

The National Security Agency purged millions of Americans’ phone records after learning that some of the data was collected in error in 2018 as part of a controversial counterterrorism program. Between Oct. 3 and 12, an unidentified phone company provided the NSA with records that it should not have received — records not related to terrorism suspects. The NSA assessed that “the impact was limited given the quick identification, purge processes and lack of reporting,” according to one report.

President Trump signs order to protect US networks from foreign espionage, a move that appears to target China

Amid a deepening trade war with China, President Donald Trump declared a “national emergency” to protect US communications networks in a move that gives the federal government broad powers to bar American companies from doing business with certain foreign suppliers — including the Chinese firm Huawei. President Trump declared the emergency in the form of an executive order that says foreign adversaries are exploiting vulnerabilities in US telecommunications technology and services. It points to economic and industrial espionage as areas of particular concern.

White House has signaled it may seek permanent renewal of controversial surveillance power

Apparently, the Trump administration has signaled in recent weeks that it may seek the permanent renewal of a surveillance law that has, among other things, enabled the National Security Agency to gather and analyze Americans’ phone records as part of terrorism investigations. The White House was prepared to issue a public statement calling on Congress to reauthorize in full Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which in the past has been the focus of heated debate over the acceptable bounds of government surveillance.

Through email leaks and propaganda, Russians sought to elect Trump, Mueller finds

In what will stand as among the most definitive public accounts of the Kremlin’s attack on the American political system, the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation laid out in precise, chronological detail how “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” The Russians’ goal, Mueller emphasized at several points, was to assist Donald Trump’s run for the White House and to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

WikiLeaks’ Assange arrested in London, accused by US of conspiring in 2010 computer hacking attempt

British authorities arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in response to an American extradition request, and a US federal court unsealed an indictment charging him with a single count of conspiracy to hack a classified Defense Department computer.  Assange was taken into custody by British police after Ecuador rescinded his asylum at its embassy in London, ending a media-saturated standoff that lasted nearly seven years.

US officials planning for a future in which Huawei has a major share of 5G global networks

US national security officials are planning for a future in which the Chinese firm Huawei will have a major share of the advanced global telecommunications market, and have begun to think about how to thwart potential espionage and disruptive cyberattacks enabled by interconnected networks. “We are going to have to figure out a way in a 5G world that we’re able to manage the risks in a diverse network that includes technology that we can’t trust,” said Sue Gordon, the deputy to the director of the US intelligence community.

Britain’s spy agency delivers a scathing assessment of the security risks posed by Huawei to the country’s telecom networks

The British government released a scathing assessment of the security risks posed by the Chinese telecom company Huawei to Britain’s telecom networks, as London weighs whether to heed US calls to bar the firm from the next-generation 5G network over fears it will enable spying by the Chinese government and potential cyberattacks.