Feeds

DHS reckons US cops' access to sat-surveillance is go

Chertoff feeling ready for warm standup

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

US Homeland Security overlord Michael Chertoff has told reporters that he believes plans for increased use of satellite surveillance by American law-enforcement agencies are ready to move forward. However, Democratic politicians remain unconvinced that adequate privacy and civil liberties safeguards are in place.

"I think the way is now clear to stand NAO up and go warm," said Chertoff, briefing journalists about the proposed National Applications Office.

NAO would allow US police, immigration, drug-enforcement and other officials to have access to data from various US satellites passing above America. It is understood that the information would be supplied mostly by spacecraft which at the moment are used for meteorological and geological surveying, or other scientific tasks. Satellites of this type can often deliver high-resolution images which would also be useful to law enforcement.

Purpose-built US surveillance satellites operated on behalf of military and intelligence agencies also pass above the US frequently. However, even the location of such spacecraft is often deemed to be a secret - for all that it may be well-known to amateur skywatchers. The capabilities of the true spybirds are even more jealously guarded, but realistically this information would soon become common knowledge if ordinary coppers were able to get such imagery.

Therefore, the new NAO probably won't offer very wide access - if any - to America's proper sky-spies. But it could provide a wealth of information all the same, and some US legislators are concerned about the implications.

Chertoff pooh-poohed such worries, saying that detailed assessments had been done and that Congresspersons had been briefed. The DHS chief believed that there's a "good process in place to make sure there aren't any... transgressions". The DHS has also pointed out that various feds including the Secret Service* and FBI have used satellite imagery of the US in various previous investigations on a case-by-case basis.

Even so, plans for warm erection of the NAO could face a bumpy ride from Democrat-dominated committees on Capitol Hill.

Coverage of the press briefing is available from CNET here. ®

*Note for non-US readers: While "Secret Service" sounds like it might be to do with spies, this is not the case in the States. The Secret Service is part of the Treasury, and does things like tracking down counterfeiters. It also provides the bodyguards for prominent US politicians, like the specialist protection branch of the Met Police in the UK. It seems that the Treasury agents were the main federal law-enforcement agency in existence when US presidents started to need close protection, and got the job by default.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.