Feeds

US electronic surveillance bill trapped in political limbo

The fight turns to Google

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A controversial bill to expand the government's electronic surveillance authority has once again been delayed from coming to the floor of the House of Representatives as politicians wrangle over the granting immunity to AT&T and other telecommunications companies.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he hoped to finish work to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, by the end of this week or the beginning of next, according to news reports. He said disagreements among Democratic lawmakers remain about whether retroactive immunity should be given to telecom companies that acquiesced to wiretapping demands even though they weren't accompanied by a court order.

According to news reports, moderate and conservative democrats have backed a plan already passed by the Senate to grant the after-the-fact immunity provision, but more liberal representatives are pushing to strip the bill of those provisions.

President Bush and other Republicans have repeatedly castigated the House for failing to take up the Bill more than three weeks after it was passed by the Senate. They argue the delay is compromising national security by preventing investigators from carrying out surveillance on potential terrorists.

Meanwhile, bloggers have jumped on comments made earlier this week by a top Department of Justice official to argue that the real intent of FISA supporters is to obtain the ability to intercept email.

During a breakfast on Capitol Hill earlier this week, according to this article in The Washington Post, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein complained that under current rules many emails and other electronic communications are off limits because "you don't know where the recipient is going to be."

Up until then, the FISA debate centered generally around the legality of eavesdropping on telephone calls between foreigners and specifically whether a warrant was necessary when the cables connecting the parties happened to pass through the US.

Wainstein seemed to be arguing that the real concern among FISA supporters is the ability to legally intercept foreign-to-foreign emails if one of the parties happens to pick up one of the messages while in US territory.

"What this means, of course, is that while the public outcry has been focused on AT&T, it should have included a few other firms, including perhaps Microsoft, Yahoo and Google," CNET blogger Chris Soghoian argued here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.