Ellen Nakashima

Federal investigators find evidence of previously unknown tactics used to penetrate government networks

Federal investigators reported on evidence of previously unknown tactics for penetrating government computer networks, a development that underscores the disastrous reach of Russia’s recent intrusions and the logistical nightmare facing federal officials trying to purge intruders from key systems. While many details remained unclear, the revelation about new modes of attack raises fresh questions about the access that Russian hackers were able to gain in government and corporate systems worldwide. 

TikTok’s fate was shaped by a ‘knockdown, drag-out’ Oval Office brawl

As leaders in Silicon Valley, China and Washington raced to seal the fate of one of the world’s fastest-growing social media companies, a shouting match broke out in the Oval Office between two of President Trump’s top advisers. In front of President Donald Trump, trade adviser Peter Navarro, and other aides, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin began arguing that the Chinese-owned video-sharing service TikTok should be sold to a US company.

Britain to bar Huawei from its 5G wireless networks, part of a growing shift away from the Chinese tech giant

Apparently, Britain will bar new deployments of Huawei equipment in its fledgling high-speed 5G network, in what is a major blow to the Chinese technology giant and a significant win for the Trump administration, which has been pressing allies to shun the firm. The British decision, expected to be announced July 14, is part of a growing shift away from China in the global 5G competition, especially among advanced democracies increasingly concerned that the firm’s ties to the Communist government create an unacceptable security risk.

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.