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Columnist: Justice Department’s Data-Sharing Plan Protects Privacy

department-of-justice-logoBy Melanie Teplinski
Christian Science Monitor

Earlier this month, the Justice Department unveiled a legislative proposal to facilitate cross-border data sharing for law enforcement purposes. While critics called it a “threat to privacy,” that characterization reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the plan. To the contrary, it’s an approach that would promote privacy, security, and innovation. It should be applauded, not decried.

The draft legislation responds to significant law enforcement problems that result from the rise of the global reach of the Internet, and the peculiarities of US law.

Until recently, law enforcement officials could find most of the evidence needed to investigate local crimes within their own countries. There were, of course, times when evidence was moved across borders or agents were tracking multinational criminals and gangs. In those situations, law enforcement officers either opened joint investigations with foreign counterparts or employed the mutual legal assistance process and made diplomatic requests for sought-after evidence.

Today, however, evidence is routinely located in other jurisdictions, often in the US. Much of the world’s communications are digitized and held by American companies such as Google or Microsoft. A 30-year-old US law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibits these firms from turning over the contents of US-held communications to foreign governments, even if the requesting government is investigating its own citizens with respect to a local crime.

Now, imagine if British police investigating a murder in London seek the suspect’s emails. If the perpetrator used a British internet provider, investigators would have the emails in days. But if the email provider is an American company, police must initiate the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, which requires a US judge to approve the request. And that takes an average of 10 months to complete. Meanwhile, the murder goes unsolved.

To read more click here.

Homeland Security Director Warns Against Divisive, Political Rhetoric about Muslims

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson warned against political rhetoric that “vilifies Muslims,” saying the federal government depends on relationship of trust form Muslim Americans.

Johnson was speaking at the annual Aspen Security Forum and did not mention Donald Trump by name, but said the anti-Muslim rhetoric “is a setback to our homeland security efforts,” the Gazette reports. 

“Overheated rhetoric that fans the flames of fear and prejudice has consequences,” he said.

Democrats have accused Trump of inflammatory rhetoric that is making it more difficult for Muslims to trust federal law enforcement.

“In our world good news is no news and nobody seems to be interested in the good news and the good work of Homeland Security employees every day,” Johnson said.

Other Stories of Interest

Dump Truck Driver Claims He Has Bomb, Smashes into FBI Office in Pittsburgh

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A dump truck driver slammed into a security gate at the FBI offices in Pittsburgh, saying he had a bomb.

Authorities arrested the driver, Thomas Richard Ross, and found no bomb or connection to terrorism, the Associated Press reports.

The New Waterford, Ohio, man was pulled over by Pittsburgh police late Thursday after running red lights and driving erratically. While pulled over, the man said he had a bomb.

The man floored the gas pedal and smashed into the gate, but the security barriers prevented him from going far.

Ross suffered minor injuries and faces numerous charges, including recklessly endanger another person, aggravated assault and fleeing and eluding.

FBI Investigating Russian Connections to Embarassing DNC Hack

democratic national comitteeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities said there’s growing evidence that hackers in Russia targeted the Democratic National Committee, but the FBI isn’t ready to point fingers.

CNN reports that the hacker, who used the name “Guccifer 2.0,” appears to have used the Russian computer service Elite VPN.

But that doesn’t mean the hack came from Russia or that there’s a connection to the Russian government.

The Democratic Party hired a cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, to investigate the hack. The firm said there “may” be a connection to Russia’s massive intelligence agency, the GRU.

But so far, the evidence is circumstantial.

Secret Service Sets Up Technology to Crack Down on Cyberattacks During DNC

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Democratic Convention in Philadelphia is tense for Secret Service.

Agents are keeping a close eye on cyberattacks after the Democratic National Committee e-mails were hacked, ABC News reports.

“We are trying to be proactive in addressing the cyber threat,” Agent Kyo Dolan of the Secret Service said.

Agents also are on heightened alert for protesters and other threats. Their job is to protect the candidates and convention venue.

“Every security enhancement available has been rolled out for the political conventions -– some you can see, and some you can’t,” Dolan said.

ABC News wrote:

To combat the cyber threat, agents and analysts have set up an extensive computer monitoring system to track internet activity around the convention –- the command center at the convention in is close touch with the Secret Service monitoring center at headquarters in Washington. Agents closely watch various networks looking for any kind of abnormal or suspicious activity.

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Border Patrol Agents Find $600,000 Worth of Liquid Meth in Texas

These containers were filled with liquid meth.

These containers were filled with liquid meth.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents seized more than $600,000 worth of liquid methamphetamine in Eagle Pass, Texas, while conducting checkpoint operations.

San Angelo Live reports that canines alerted agents to possible narcotics in the vehicle.

“The profit from these narcotics are more important to the criminal organizations than the negative impact they have on communities,” said Acting Del Rio Sector Chief Matthew Hudak. “I commend our agents for their hard work and dedication in removing these drugs from our streets.”

The liquid meth was found in shampoo bottles.

The driver was arrested and turned over to the DEA.

Former DEA Task Force Member Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Cash, Drugs

DEALetterHatBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A veteran narcotics officer who was member of a DEA task force in New Orleans has been indicted on federal charges of allegedly stealing drugs and seized cash.

The Advocate reports that former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Karl E. Newman is the second member of the DEA task force to charged criminally.

Newman’s attorney declined to comment on the case.

Newman has been in jail since May 13 on a federal detainer.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Investigating Whether DNC Hackers Also Targeted Clinton Aides

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether the Russia hackers who gained access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer networks also targeted aides and organizations close to Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times reports that there’s evidence that hackers attempted to gain access to some Clinton associates through “spear-phishing attacks.”

The DNC has said its system was hacked by Russian hackers, which several private cybersecurity firms have confirmed.

Last month, FBI Director James Comey said hackers tried to tap into Clinton’s private e-mail server but were likely unsuccessful.