At a glance.
- China expels US journalists.
- Some HIPAA requirements relaxed to aid remote healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- HHS incident shows difficulties of attribution.
- FISA reform remains on hold in the US Congress.
- Tension between public health and civil liberties?
China expels US journalists.
Amid tensions over trade, espionage, and, most recently, the origin and spread of coronavirus, China's government has expelled a number of US journalists and banned their publications from working in the country. The Wall Street Journal lists the affected news outlets as itself, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, with Time and the Voice of America placed on notice that they could be next, if they don't straighten up and fly right.
US will overlook certain HIPAA violations.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will waive potential fines for healthcare providers who use Facetime and Facebook Messenger to consult and diagnose patients, CNET reports. Ordinarily doing so would violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but HHS is relaxing enforcement as a sensible accommodation to the pandemic.
Downtime, incidents, and attribution.
The consensus about the incident the US Department of Health and Human Services experienced Sunday and Monday is now relatively firm: it probably wasn't an attack at all, and clearly the Department's operations didn't suffer. Some think that it might not even have amounted to a probe or a preliminary distributed denial-of-service attack. It might have been an unusually large number of visitors looking for reliable information on COVID-19, or even an artifact of the Department's Drupal instance.
The episode should indicate, as we’ve seen so often in the past, the difficulties of attribution. It’s often difficult to tell whether an incident is an attack at all, or simply a malfunction, or even just routine functioning that’s a little bit out of the ordinary. Given the centrality of deterrence to the US national strategy recommended by the Cyberspace Solarium, what the commission's final report called "enhanced attribution" will be a must.
Whither FISA reform?
The US Senate extended domestic surveillance authorities temporarily this week, but Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform will have to wait. As Lawfare describes, there are many in Congress and the Administration who want more extensive FISA reform than that contained in the House bill the Senate has yet to consider.
Governments consider extraordinary methods in fighting COVID-19.
The Telegraph summarizes ways in which several countries are considering technologies ranging from surveillance to social control as potential responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.