Morning Security Brief: Police Collecting Personal Data, Sexual Abuse Reports Lacking, and Tech Companies Fight Back Against NSA

By Teresa Anderson

► Law enforcement agencies requested data from cell phone towers more than 9,000 times last year, according to an article in The Washington Post. This practice, known as a tower dump, provides police with all of the phone numbers that have passed through that tower in a given time frame, revealing data on thousands of private citizens who are not targeted by the investigation. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) has launched an inquiry into the practice. He also plans to introduce legislation later this month to require law enforcement to obtain warrants for such data and to ensure that the requests are narrowly focused.

► The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report finding that the statistics collected on sexual-abuse incidents in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities are incomplete. The GAO found that 40 percent of the allegations reported at the 10 facilities it investigated were never officially recorded because ICE field agents failed to report them to ICE headquarters. The GAO also found that, because of a technological glitch, 14 percent of calls to the abuse hotline failed to go through.

The New York Times reports that eight major tech companies are launching a public relations campaign to urge President Obama to reign in NSA spying. Under fire from customers for exposing data to the NSA’s program, the tech companies are working to gain back consumer trust. “It’s now in their business and economic interest to protect their users’ privacy and to aggressively push for changes,” said Trevor Timm, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The N.S.A. mass-surveillance programs exist for a simple reason: cooperation with the tech and telecom companies. If the tech companies no longer want to cooperate, they have a lot of leverage to force significant reform.”


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