At a glance.
- After Discord Papers, US plans stronger safeguards for classified data.
- Federal court ruling leads US State Department to cancel meeting with Big Tech.
- New online crime bill passed in Singapore.
After Discord Papers, US plans stronger safeguards for classified data.
The US Department of Defense (DOD) yesterday announced it will be enacting a series of protection measures to better safeguard classified information. The move follows a Pentagon investigation of government classification procedures after an April incident dubbed the Discord Papers, in which a member of the Massachusetts National Guard leaked classified information about the Russia-Ukraine war on social media. The Pentagon says the forty-five-day review did not reveal any single point of failure, Breaking Defense explains, but discovered a number of ambiguities and inconsistencies in classification policies. A senior official told reporters, "While the review found that a majority of DOD personnel with access to classified national security information, or as we call it CNSI, comply with security policies, procedures and processes, and recognize the importance of that information and maintaining our national security, the review also identified a number of areas where the department should seek to improve its security posture and accountability measures.” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has directed DOD components to update current classification processes to make sure they are in compliance with intelligence community standards, establish new policies to address security gaps, and improve training and education around data security. As well, AP News adds, DOD facilities used to process and store classified information have been tasked with tightening their data management procedures, including the assignment of top-secret control officers to monitor users.
Federal court ruling leads US State Department to cancel meeting with Big Tech.
A source at Facebook says the US State Department has canceled a scheduled monthly meeting with the social media giant focused on fighting potential digital threats to the 2024 presidential election. The move appears to be in response to a Louisiana federal judge’s ruling earlier this week limiting the White House’s communications with tech firms. President Biden’s Department of Justice has already filed a notice that it will appeal the ruling, but according to the source the State Department has nonetheless canceled all future meetings with Facebook, and presumably other tech giants, “pending further guidance.” The Washington Post reports that the State Department, as well as Google and other tech firms contacted, have not yet responded to a request for comment. The canceled meetings indicate that the ruling issued by US District Judge Terry A. Doughty, a Trump appointee, could impede government efforts to work with social media companies to combat foreign influence operations and the spread of misinformation online. A former Department of Homeland Security official, who has asked to remain anonymous, told the Washington Post that the meetings are likely being canceled while government agencies determine the full impact of the judge’s ruling. “I would expect to see DOJ or the White House take the first public steps,” the former official said. “There will likely be a chilling effect from overly cautious government counsels. What previously had been inbounds will look too close to the line, or we’re not sure how it’s going to work.”
New online crime bill passed in Singapore.
The Singapore government yesterday passed the Online Criminal Harm Bill, legislation aimed at fighting digital scams. The South China Morning Post explains that the bill is also intended to crack down on other illicit online activities like terrorism, drug trafficking, and the dissemination of exploitative or voyeuristic images. Under the new law, the government will have the authority to direct tech companies to take down offending posts or pages, prevent offending accounts from interacting with local users, and take preemptive measures to combat online scams. The legislation is the latest in a series of laws enacted in recent years to defend against online crime; other measures target the spread of misinformation and foreign interference. Singapore’s Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo stated, “There is growing international consensus that new rules and levers are needed to combat criminal harms online. There is also growing recognition that proactive approaches are needed to prevent such harms, and that government efforts alone will not be enough.”