from the drug-war-still-a-thing dept.
Reuters is reporting on a lawsuit filed against the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by Human Rights Watch. The lawsuit, filed on April 7, 2015, seeks to have the DEA's bulk collection program [autoplay video, exclusive report by USA TODAY] declared unlawful.
From the Reuters article:
Opening another front in the legal challenges to U.S. government surveillance, a human rights group has sued the Drug Enforcement Administration for collecting bulk records of Americans' telephone calls to some foreign countries.
Lawyers for Human Rights Watch filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit asks a judge to declare unlawful the DEA program, which ended in September 2013 after about 15 years, and to bar the DEA from collecting call records in bulk again.
U.S. spying programs have come under court scrutiny since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of them in 2013.
Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said on Wednesday the DEA program is not active.
"All of the information has been deleted," he said in an email to Reuters. "The agency is no longer collecting bulk telephony metadata from U.S. service providers."
The DEA's Special Operations Division collected data in bulk about international calls from the United States to certain countries determined by the government to have a nexus to drug trafficking.
The data included phone numbers and the date, time and duration of each call, but not the content, according to the DEA.
Snowden's stream of leaked NSA secrets about classified surveillance programs shined the public spotlight on the clandestine government organization. Though the stream has now dissipated to a trickle, the impact to the intelligence community continues.
[...] Within NSA's Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters, no one wants to face another Snowden. With NSA's widespread adoption of cloud computing, the spy agency may not have to.
NSA bet big on cloud computing as the solution to its data problem several years ago. [...] NSA's GovCloud - open-source software stacked on commodity hardware - creates a scalable environment for all NSA data. Soon, most everything NSA collects will end up in this ocean of information.
At first blush, that approach seems counterintuitive. In a post-Snowden world, is it really a good idea to put everything in one place -- to have analysts swimming around in an ocean of NSA secrets and data? It is, if that ocean actually controls what information analysts in the NSA GovCloud can access. That's analogous to how NSA handles security in its cloud.
NSA built the architecture of its cloud environment from scratch, allowing security to be baked in and automated rather than bolted on and carried out by manual processes. Any piece of data ingested by NSA systems over the last two years has been meta-tagged with bits of information, including where it came from and who is authorized to see it in preparation for the agency's cloud transition.