At a glance.
- Germany's constitutional court rules against BND surveillance.
- US Attorney General criticizes Apple on encryption.
- Contact tracing and privacy in France.
- Feds advise law enforcement to prepare for vandalism of 5G infrastructure.
German court restricts surveillance authorities.
Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the country's intelligence service, the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) must curtail most of its surveillance operations, Fortune reports. The court ruled that foreigners also benefit from the privacy protections afforded by German law. In a press release announcing the ruling, the Bundesverfassungschutz said in part:
"The First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court held that the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst – BND) is bound by the fundamental rights of the Basic Law when conducting telecommunications surveillance of foreigners in other countries, and that the statutory bases in their current design violate the fundamental right to privacy of telecommunications (Art. 10(1) of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG) and the freedom of the press (Art. 5(1) second sentence GG). This applies to the collection and processing of data, the transfer of data thus obtained to other entities and the cooperation with foreign intelligence services. However, statutory bases for foreign telecommunications surveillance can be designed in conformity with the Constitution."
Crypto wars update.
The US Department of Justice has succeeded in obtaining information from the partially destroyed iPhones used by the Saudi flight officer who shot up Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida last year. The data the investigators obtained connected the shooter to al Qaeda. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Barr has complained of Apple's lack of assistance, saying that the company's refusal to provide means of accessing iPhones delayed the investigation by some five months.
The incident is being cited by both sides in the Crypto Wars. The Attorney General cites the incident as showing that tech companies exhibit a casual indifference to national security. Apple draws the opposite conclusion, saying, “It is because we take our responsibility to national security so seriously that we do not believe in the creation of a backdoor — one which will make every device vulnerable to bad actors who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers.”
Contact tracing and privacy in France.
France is proceeding with its centralized approach to COVID-19 contact tracing, ZDNet reports. Authorities maintain that this is being done with due regard for preserving users' privacy. The government is particularly interested in the utility the system, StopCOVID, might have in containing a recurrence of the virus. Earlier this month Medium offered a summary of the app's development, including its goals and prospects.
Feds advise law enforcement to prepare for vandalism of 5G infrastructure.
ABC News reports that the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center have issued an advisory to law enforcement authorities warning them to expect vandalism directed against 5G and other telecommunications infrastructure. "Violent extremists have drawn from misinformation campaigns online that claim wireless infrastructure is deleterious to human health and helps spread COVID-19, resulting in a global effort by like-minded individuals to share operational guidance and justification for conducting attacks against 5G infrastructure, some of which have already prompted arson and physical attacks against cell towers in several US states." Such attacks, hitherto more commonly observed in Europe, have begun to appear in the US as the bogus theory of a link between cellular networks and COVID-19 gain traction.
Some of this vandalism predates the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, and therefore also predates the misinformation that's now driving the incidents, Business Insider notes. Arson was reported at cellular infrastructure sites as early as December of 2019.