Tue, 9 February 2016
We devote episode 100 to “section 702” intelligence – the highly productive counterterrorism program that collects data on foreigners from data stored on US servers. What’s remarkable about the program is its roots: President Bush’s decision to ignore the clear language of FISA and implement collection without judicial approval. That decision has now been ratified by Congress – and will be ratified again in 2017 when the authority for it ends. But what does it say about the future of intelligence under law that our most productive innovation in intelligence only came about because the law was broken?
Our guest for the episode, David Kris, thinks that President Bush might have been able to persuade Congress to approve the program in 2001 if he’d asked. David may be right; he is a former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, the coauthor of the premier sourcebook on intelligence under law, "National Security Investigations & Prosecutions,” and the General Counsel of Intellectual Ventures. But what I find surprising is how little attention has been paid to the question. How about it? Is George Bush to FISA what Abraham Lincoln was to habeas corpus?
My interview with David leaves Lincoln to the history books and instead focuses entirely on section 702. David lays out the half-dozen issues likely to be addressed during the debate over reauthorization, including the risk that the legislation will attract efforts to limit overseas signals intelligence, now governed mainly by Executive Order 12333. He then pivots to the issues he thinks Congress should grapple with but probably won’t – from the growing ambiguity of location as a proxy for US citizenship to the failure of current intelligence law to adequately extract intelligence from the technologies that have emerged since 9/11, particularly social media and advertising technology.
In the news roundup, Maury Shenk and Michael Vatis take us deep into the US-EU agreement on “Privacy Shield” – a replacement for the Safe Harbor. The short version: there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, but the EU has once again taken off the table its unenforceable threat to stop transatlantic data flows.
In other news, Michael and Alan explain how HIPAA became a divorce lawyer’s dream weapon.
The Brits, meanwhile, are lapping the United States in creative use of intelligence law. Maury and Michael explore how the UK proposes to bring the big webmail providers to heel.
I note the controversy at Berkeley over some garden-variety network monitoring, adopted in response to a serious health data breach. University academics are appalled to discover that protecting patient privacy might limit their ability to do what they want on university networks. HIPAA enforcers v. entitled academic lefties: all I ask is more popcorn.
Hey, remember Norse Security, the company that went to the press to say that the FBI was all wet when it attributed the Sony attack to North Korea? Well, Norse imploded last week, after a laid-off employee’s published criticisms were amplified by security blogger Brian Krebs. Choicest bit from the Norse co-founder’s post: the company’“demonstrat[es] how today’s media can be manipulated by persons to suit their purposes or personal vendettas and how facts can be misrepresented to lead an entire industry astray.” Yep. You know what they say: Live by the flashy but inaccurate press report, die by the flashy but inaccurate press report.
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