STLR Link Roundup – Oct. 10, 2014

Twitter Fights for Transparency Regarding the Scale of Government Surveillance

Twitter is taking on the Administration in an attempt to deliver more information to its customers about the scale of government surveillance. Twitter sued the U.S. government, alleging that restrictions on its ability to disclose law enforcement requests for user data violate the company’s First Amendment rights. Tech companies may report aggregate data on requests for customer data, but only in broad ranges of 1000 starting with 0-999.

Twitter, however, seeks to be more frank with its users, calling the restrictions an unconstitutional “prior restraint” of protected speech. Eric Miller, Twitter’s attorney, wrote in the complaint: “The [Government’s] position forces Twitter either to engage in speech that has been preapproved by government officials or else to refrain from speaking altogether.” In a January settlement with the Government, eight companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft agreed to ease restrictions on disclosure by establishing the current wide ranges. Twitter did not partake in the settlement negotiations.


Home Depot and JP Morgan the Latest Data Breach Victims as Concern Rises over Cybersecurity

There have been 589 data breaches so far in 2014. Home Depot and JP Morgan are the latest to report being targeted by hackers. The breach affected 56 million Home Depot customers and 76 million JP Morgan customers. Payment card numbers were compromised in the Home Depot breach, but hackers were not able to obtain sensitive information including account numbers and passwords from JP Morgan.

The firms’ share prices were not affected by the news, leading some to believe consumers have become complacent about data theft. Yet, others are more concerned that hackers are reaching banking institutions, which have much more sensitive information about customers than retailers. The Connecticut and Illinois Attorneys General are looking into whether JP Morgan violated any notification laws, and are calling for action at the national level. But Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin concedes that vulnerability to data breaches is inevitable. “JP Morgan spends crazy amounts of money on IT security and yet they can still be hacked,” he said. “There’s really no way you can be connected to the Internet and keep things safe.”

Congress has yet to address the threat of cyber attacks through comprehensive legislation.  President Obama declared October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month to underscore the importance of securing cyberspace.

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