NSA Round Up: Talking about President Obama, General Alexander, Vice Admiral Rogers, IBM, and Faceboook

  • The New York Times reports that, early last week, National Security Agency (NSA) Director nominee, Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers, declined to make written comment to the Senate Armed Services Committee on either Russia’s alleged involvement in the cyber attacks on the new Ukraine government or the extent of the damage those attacks caused.  However, Adm. Rogers did say that “clearly cyber will be an element of every crisis we see in the future.”
  • The Washington Post, also reporting on the NSA nominee, published an article last week indicating that the Vice Admiral supports President Obama’s choice to remove the mass metadata collection program from government control.  However, Adm. Rogers “would oppose an end to the bulk collection of such data.”
  • Speaking of metadata, Bruce Schneier, an internationally renowned security technologist, wrote an interesting post on his blog, “Schneier on Security,” about the line drawn between metadata collection and true surveillance.  In Schneier’s view,

    This might fool the average person, but it shouldn’t fool those of us in the security field.  Metadata equals surveillance data, and collecting metadata on people means putting them under surveillance.

    Here’s the full post.

  • Switching gears to the outgoing NSA Director, the Wall Street Journal reports that General Keith Alexander “assured the American Bar Association in a letter that the U.S. has a policy and legal safeguards to prevent the mishandling of confidential attorney information collected during surveillance missions.”  The assurances came in response to a letter from the ABA president expressing concern in light of a recent report regarding an Australian intelligence agency’s information sharing practices, according to the WSJ.
  • Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher wrote an article in the Intercept last week warning that the NSA is “dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.”  Specifically, according to the report, leaked NSA documents reveal that the NSA has developed malware “implants” through a system called “TURBINE” that could potentially infect millions of computers and remove data from the networks.  Here’s an article on the same topic from Wired.
  • Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg reportedly called President Obama to express his concern over government surveillance activities.  According to Time, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook:

    I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.  Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.

    Time further reports that the White House has confirmed such a conversation took place between Zuckerberg and President Obama.

  • Lastly, in an open letter to its clients, IBM publicly reported that it has not provided the NSA with access to client data and would challenge any surveillance-related national security or gag orders the government may seek to impose.  In closing, the letter states:

    Technology often challenges us as a society.  This is one instance in which both business and government must respond.  Data is the next great natural resource, with the potential to improve lives and transform institutions for the better.  However, establishing and maintaining the public’s trust in new technologies is essential.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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