Morning Security Brief: National Security and U.K. Information Requests, Diplomatic Security, and Cybersecurity
By Ann Longmore-Etheridge
Facebook and Google want the government to let them reveal more about national security data requests. The United Kingdom's intelligence agencies asked for private communications data more than 1,200 times last year. An outside investigative unit is looking into claims that officials tried to protect diplomatic security agents from allegations of criminal activity. A Pentagon cybersecurity budget outline says $23 billion to be spent through 2018.
► Facebook and Google are asking the government to let them reveal more information to users about the national security data requests they receive. "The companies have been under pressure since revelations last week about a secret data-gathering program at the National Security Agency. Facebook, Google and the Google-owned video site YouTube are among the companies involved in PRISM, a program that The Washington Post has reported monitors information that passes through the companies to and from foreign targets," reports the Washington Post. Google maintains that the government's insistence on secrecy is making users paranoid about what Google is doing with their personal data.
► An article by The Guardian claims that United Kingdom "intelligence agencies asked for "information on private communications via Microsoft products last year, with demands for Skype call information outnumbering those made by U.S. agencies." The Guardian says that the United Kingdom made 1,268 requests, while the United States made 1,154. "Germany made 686 and France made 402. Microsoft received more than 75,000 snooping orders in 2012, affecting 137,000 user accounts," the newspaper reported.
► AFP reports that an outside investigating unit is looking into claims that U.S. State Department officials tried to protect the agency's diplomatic security agents and diplomats themselves from allegations of bad behavior--including the use of drugs and prostitutes. "An internal memo by the State Department's Inspector General found eight cases in which inquiries into alleged criminal activity by diplomatic security agents or contractors were influenced or halted," writes AFP. Security agents protecting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton were among those implicated. The AFP report references CBS "quoting from the memo, which "also revealed details of an alleged 'underground drug ring' near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that was said to supply drugs to contractors working for diplomatic security," AFP says.
► "A Pentagon c ybersecurity budget outline calls for spending almost $23 billion through financial year 2018, as efforts are expanded on initiatives from protecting computer networks to developing offensive capabilities," reports the Business Standard. The U.S. Defense Department has proposed $4.65 billion for these programs "in the financial year that begins October 1, an 18 per cent increase from the $3.94 billion budgeted this year. The five-year 'cyber-expense' budget obtained by Bloomberg News calls for spending to remain elevated from past levels," the Business Standard notes.