NEWS

Morning Security Brief: Wiretap Laws, Online Background Checks, Diamond Heist Arrests, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration, "resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing an FBI plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services." The FBI has been arguing that its ability to conduct court-approved monitoring of a suspect's communication is becoming more and more difficult as people shift away from telephone communication to instant messaging via social media and other Internet platforms. The FBI's counsel, Andrew Weissmann, said in a statement that "the proposal was aimed only at preserving law enforcement officials’ longstanding ability to investigate suspected criminals, spies and terrorists subject to a court’s permission."

►The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has warned some businesses that the "quick, easy background checks they are providing online might violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act," says the Associated Press. "The law requires that companies providing information to potential employers, landlords, insurers and creditors double check the accuracy of their records and notify a person if a background check has been done. And in some cases, the businesses need to make sure the person asking for the information has a legitimate purpose for receiving it. If the business doesn't take these additional steps, it must make clear that its background checks or consumer lists may include errors and should be used for marketing or entertainment purposes only."

►Arrests have been made in a stunningly brazen diamond heist that occurred in February at a Belgian airport. Approximately $50 million in gemstones were taken when personnel from a security firm were offloading the diamonds into a Helvetic Airways jet from an armored vehicle. Several vehicles with flashing lights that appeared to be police cars pulled up, but rather than police, masked men with weapons emerged from the car. They then broke into the hold and took the diamonds. The Los Angeles Times has more on the arrests here.

►In other news, the U.K. Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has released a study on insider threats, available here. Campbell University in North Carolina has announced that it will begin offering a bachelor's degree in homeland security beginning this autumn. And The Washington Post reports that a planned terrorist attack was disrupted by authorities who found explosive devices and weapons in a Minnesota home.

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