In the months following the tragic Dec. 2, 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the FBI and Apple engaged in a heated legal (and publicity) battle over whether or not the tech giant could be compelled to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the attackers. Then in March 2016, the FBI paid an unidentified third party to provide a solution this particular problem. The identity and actual cost of this unlocking is still unknown, but two of the country’s biggest media companies have sued the FBI to learn more. [More]
When the flight attendants tell a plane full of passengers that smoking is prohibited onboard, perhaps they should clarify that lighting anything on fire is not okay. Some people could probably use a reminder, like the traveler accused of using a lighter to set two blankets aflame during a JetBlue flight. [More]
Millions of Americans lost their jobs, houses, savings, and more when the housing market collapsed under the weight of mortgages that should never have been approved, let alone bundled and converted into worthless, toxic securities. And yet, no senior Wall Street bank executives were ever charged with a crime. Now one U.S. congressman is asking to look at the FBI files to find out why. [More]
Earlier this week, in response to the recent massacre of 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina introduced a controversial piece of legislation that, if approved, would allow federal law enforcement to perform searches of suspects’ electronic and online records without a traditional court order. However, this morning the Senate narrowly failed to approve the bill. [More]
Law enforcement has long used tattoos as a way to identify people (“The suspect has the name ‘Marge’ on his forearm”), or as an indicator of group membership (“All members of the gang had the same exact tattoo on their forearms”), but the FBI’s in-development tattoo recognition program seeks to create an algorithm to make instant inferences about a person’s behavior based on their tattoos.
Last month, Senators Diane Feinstein of California and Richard Burr of North Carolina were set to bring forth legislation that would end the debate on whether companies like Apple should help law enforcement unlock users’ devices, by requiring them to do so. In spite of the bipartisan, high-level sponsorship and the spotlight of the disputes between Apple and the Justice Department, it looks like this controversial legislation may never even be formally introduced. [More]
A doctor in California claims that there are real secret agents in the Geek Squad, and that a paid FBI informant turned him in after finding suspicious material on his hard drive in 2012. While the FBI doesn’t deny that the Geek Squad employee did contact them about the contents of the defendant’s hard drive and that they did pay him, the Bureau insists that it didn’t employ informants working in the Geek Squad repair center to comb users’ computers for porn. [More]
Birds pose a danger to commercial aircraft, but unauthorized drones are also a threat. Fortunately for everyone, we don’t yet know what would happen if a solid unmanned aerial vehicle collided with a jet or flew into its engine. The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t want to find out, which is one of the reasons why they tested an FBI drone-detection system to prevent crashes. [More]
Twitter has hit a substantial roadblock in its nearly two-year legal battle against restrictions on what it can reveal to users about requests for data from federal law enforcement agencies. Yesterday, a U.S. District Court dismissed a substantial chunk of Twitter’s case, though the social media platform will be given an opportunity to try again. [More]
The federal court set up to review government requests for surveillance involving issues of national security is either rubber-stamping everything that it sees, or the FBI and the National Security Agency are incredibly good at filing these requests. A new report claims that the court approved every single one of the 1,457 requests it received last year. [More]
A month ago, the FBI dropped its legal effort to compel Apple to unlock a dead terrorist’s iPhone after a third party provided the agency with a way to bypass the device’s encryption. While the federal law enforcer is okay with using what it learned to aid other criminal investigations, it doesn’t look like the FBI is jumping at the chance to let Apple in on the secret. [More]
As you may have heard, on Friday afternoon the U.S. Department of Justice backed off its efforts to compel Apple to aid in unlocking a criminal suspect’s iPhone — for the second time in only a few weeks. While some have heralded this as a significant victory for Apple (or at least as a loss for the government), it’s really just a tiny, unresolved spat in what looks to become a protracted legal battle for both sides. [More]
With the U.S. Department of Justice still attempting to compel Apple to unlock the iPhone of a drug suspect, the tech giant is asking the court why this is so important when the former owner of that iPhone has already pled guilty. [More]
Usually, D.C. moves slowly. There’s a kind of plodding, methodical rhythm to Congress and the federal agencies, and very little turns on a dime. So it stands out that less than 48 hours after introducing a bill into the Senate, over 42,000 people have already objected to basically everything about it.
A week after it was first reported that Senators Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Richard Burr (NC) were prepping a bipartisan bill that would compel tech companies to build their devices and software with weakened encryption or built-in backdoors for law enforcement, the actual bill has been introduced. Here’s what you need to know about why consumer and privacy advocates are concerned.