Justice Dept. internal watchdog to investigate FBI’s Clinton inquiry
The inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general, likely to keep open the wounds of the bitter 2016 presidential race, will focus on whether “policies or procedures were not followed” by the FBI and Justice Department.
Of particular focus will be the letter sent by Comey to Congress just 11 days before the Nov. 8 election that disclosed that his agents were reviewing newly discovered emails possibly pertinent to the then-closed investigation on Clinton’s handling of classified material while serving as secretary of State.
At first I was heartened by this news, but if the review is limited only to whether “policies and procedures were not followed” there will be no investigation into the Hatch Act implications of Comey’s election-week disclosure.
FBI Director dislikes encryption on Apple and Google devices
Encryption of data on mobile devices is a big selling point in our post-Snowden world. But FBI Director James Comes isn’t happy about it:
What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.
David Kravets of Ars Technica reports Comey has “reached out” to the companies about the issue. Absent new or amended legislation, though, there is little he can do about it, precisely because there is such a sales incentive to marketing encryption these days.
Google fighting National Security Letter
The letters, issued by federal authorities investigating national security concerns, prohibit recipients from disclosing that they have received them, let alone what they’re asking for. The Judge in Google’s case1 struck down the law’s gag order provision as violative of the First Amendment, but has stayed the effect of that decision while the government pursues an appeal.
I should note that I essentially paraphrased the Wikipedia article for that second sentence, as my knowledge of NSLs is limited. I look forward to reading more on them, and I’m glad to see a company with the clout and caliber of attorneys that Google has questioning the legality of the NSL framework.
At first glance, it may seem odd that a company that siphons so much data about its users would be so protective of it when the government is asking for it.
But it makes sense for Google to defend user information: it needs that information to make its advertising products more relevant, Many accept the trade of having their documents and emails scanned and anonymized by Google in exchange for exceptional and free services. If Google fails to protect that information from surveillance via legal tools of questionable constitutionality, the balance of that trade may tip too far for many users.
Thus, this is one of those rare cases where corporate goals and user concerns are aligned.
FBI examining HP/Autonomy accounting debacle
HP’s got ninety-nine problems, but a recently-acquired pattern recognition company with possibly-dishonest accounting practices ain’t…