AFTERMATH OF THE NUNES MEMO: SCHUMER HITS BACK
From Politico: House Intel members: Release the FISA application
After the controversial release of the Nunes Memo on Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Trump to allow the House Democrats to release a counter-memo which he said would add more context. In a letter to Trump, Schumer argued that refusal to release the Democrats’ memo would only confirm the narrative that the Nunes memo was released as a means to hamper Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the election. Now, Representatives Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) of the House Intelligence Committee are pushing for the release of the FISA application at issue in Nunes’ memo. Himes believes that the release would allow people to “see how comprehensive the FISA application process is rather than the way it’s being characterized as secret, dark, behind closed doors.”
PROVISIONAL IMMIGRATION BILL TEEMING WITH SURVEILLANCE AUTHORIZATIONS
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Keep Border Spy Tech Out of Dreamer Protection Bills
Congress will soon vote on a bill to protect Dreamers, but unfortunately, the latest language—in the form of a provisional bill filed by Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Michael McCaul— is overflowing with invasive surveillance provisions. Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security would be authorized and required to collect biometric information from anyone traveling out of the US (including citizens and permanent residents), examine and permanently store the social media accounts of visa applicants from “high-risk countries,” increase drone surveillance in border regions, and update its automatic license plate readers at the border. As EFF observes, collecting biometric information is both invasive and dangerous, as it can be stolen, misused, and used in other government programs. The bill does not define what constitutes a “high-risk country,” meaning DHS would be able to target travelers in discriminatory and likely arbitrary ways. Meanwhile, automatic license plate readers and drones along the border collect a plethora of private information in dragnet fashion, subjecting people who live in these areas to unwarranted forms of mass surveillance.
From the Texas Observer: Fear and Loathing at the San Antonio Border Security Expo
At a border security expo in San Antonio, Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan expressed that ICE is looking for “everything from facial recognition software to cloud storage services to devices to help discover border tunnels.” The hunt for more surveillance tech is part of DHS’s plan to make “interior enforcement” a regular part of their border security initiatives. Homan also discussed the importance of the wall and slammed sanctuary cities, accusing them of “bankrolling the very criminal organizations that have murdered our agents.” DHS Central America regional attaché Edward Dolan also explained that they want to “push the borders out” by trying to convince other countries to crack down on immigration.
HEY BILLIONAIRES: YOU CAN’T DELETE THIS!
From Freedom of the Press Foundation: Archiving the alternative press threatened by wealthy buyers
In the face of threats from disgruntled billionaires, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has partnered with Archive-It on a largescale archival project to preserve online content. The project will primarily focus on websites that are vulnerable to being bought by people who could manipulate or delete their years of reporting. The project first archived Gawker, which folded after a lawsuit paid for by billionaire Peter Thiel. L.A. Weekly was also archived after its new owners hid their identity, eliminated most of the writers’ positions, and removed an article questioning their actions. By preserving at-risk websites, the project seeks to protect writers’ freedom of speech and take a stand against wealthy individuals who try to censor information inconvenient to their interests.
UPDATE: ADMINISTRATION WILL NOT BUILD A 5G NETWORK, BUT FEAR OF CHINESE TECHNOLOGY PERSISTS
White House officials have confirmed that a memo obtained by Axios which called for a nationalized 5G network is outdated. According to the memo, officials felt a government-sponsored 5G network was necessary in order to combat the cybersecurity threat posed by China. While the single network plan has been ruled out, the government’s fear of China in this space is still a live issue. Due to pressure from the US government, both Verizon and AT&T have decided not to sell phones produced by Chinese company Huawei. Earlier in January, Congressman Mike Conaway introduced the Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which prohibits the US government from purchasing or using technology for Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese company.
This news roundup was written by Iqra Asghar, an intern with the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Technology for Liberty Program.