Snowden Joins Outcry Against World's Biggest Biometric Database… FBI Chief Calls Unbreakable Encryption 'Urgent Public Safety Issue'

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Snowden Joins Outcry Against World’s Biggest Biometric Database

  • Says India must reform policies to protect privacy of citizens
  • India top court to start hearings on Aadhaar legality Jan. 17

Former U.S. intelligence-contractor-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden joined critics of India’s digital ID program as the nation’s top court is due to decide on its legality.

Snowden on Tuesday tweeted in support of an Indian journalist who faces police charges after she reported that personal details of over a billion citizens enrolled in the program could be illegally accessed for just $8 paid through a digital wallet. Named Aadhaar, the program is backed by the world’s biggest biometric database, which its operator Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, says wasn’t breached.

Snowden’s tweet.
Source: Twitter
Snowden wasn’t the only one outraged. A public outcry against UIDAI’s action forced an intervention by India’s Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and pushed the UIDAI to issue a clarification.

This isn’t the first time Snowden has spoken against the Aadhaar. On Jan. 5, he tweeted: “It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse.”

FBI chief calls unbreakable encryption ‘urgent public safety issue’

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The inability of law enforcement authorities to access data from electronic devices due to powerful encryption is an “urgent public safety issue,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday as he sought to renew a contentious debate over privacy and security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to access data from nearly 7,800 devices in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 with technical tools despite possessing proper legal authority to pry them open, a growing figure that impacts every area of the agency’s work, Wray said during a speech at a cyber security conference in New York.

The FBI has been unable to access data in more than half of the devices that it tried to unlock due to encryption, Wray added.

“This is an urgent public safety issue,” Wray added, while saying that a solution is “not so clear cut.”

Technology companies and many digital security experts have said that the FBI’s attempts to require that devices allow investigators a way to access a criminal suspect’s cellphone would harm internet security and empower malicious hackers. U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, have expressed little interest in pursuing legislation to require companies to create products whose contents are accessible to authorities who obtain a warrant.

Supremes side with suspects over gov’t on privacy…

WASHINGTON — A heroin-toting, unauthorized rental car driver and the owner of a stolen motorcycle that twice eluded police got some love from the Supreme Court Tuesday.

In two cases testing the reach of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protection, a majority of justices appeared to side with the suspects over the government when their constitutional rights were threatened.

They were more united when it came to Terrence Byrd, who was stopped by police in Pennsylvania while driving a car rented by his fiancée. A search of the trunk produced 49 bricks of heroin and body armor — but without a warrant.

Justice Department officials argued successfully in lower courts that because Byrd was not authorized to drive the car, he lacked any expectation of privacy. That didn’t sit well with most of the justices.

“Even if you don’t have an expectation of privacy in the trunk, you’ve claimed an expectation of privacy in the property,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “And absent probable cause, there’s no right to search. So why are we here?”

Justice Neil Gorsuch, picking up on his predecessor Antonin Scalia’s penchant for privacy rights, said Byrd would have been able to throw out a carjacker or a hitchhiker, “so why not the government?”

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1 thought on “Snowden Joins Outcry Against World's Biggest Biometric Database… FBI Chief Calls Unbreakable Encryption 'Urgent Public Safety Issue'

  1. hmm the fbi says unbreakable encryption an urgent public safety issue.. and yet the government has the best unbreakable encryption money can buy.. hypocrisy much?

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