At a glance.
- White House releases independent report in support of Section 702.
- ONCD unveils plans for improving the cyber workforce.
White House releases independent report in support of Section 702.
The debate over whether to reauthorize Section 702 – the portion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the American government to warrantlessly search the electronic communications of foreign persons – has been brewing for some time now. While human rights advocates say the measure has been abused in order to allow the unlawful surveillance of US citizens, members of President Joe Biden’s administration have been vocal about their support of Section 702, saying it’s an essential intelligence tool that has been integral in fighting terrorism and other foreign threats.
The Register reports that yesterday the White House made its stance even clearer by releasing the "vast majority" of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) report on the intelligence community’s surveillance power as support for reauthorization. The statement from the White House reads, "We agree with the unanimous conclusion reached by this group of independent, deeply experienced experts that failure to reauthorize Section 702 could be 'one of the worst intelligence failures of our time.’” While the report does recommend renewal, it also confirms that "complacency, a lack of proper procedures, and the sheer volume of Section 702 activity led to FBI's inappropriate use" of its powers.
However, the investigation “found no evidence of willful misuse” and states that only three cases of intentional misconduct were discovered among the millions of Section 702 queries made. To minimize abuse in the future, the report makes several recommendations, including establishing a common standard for queries across all agencies, improving the FBI's internal compliance program, and declassifying some categories of intercepted communications to increase transparency.
ONCD unveils plans for improving the cyber workforce.
The US Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) yesterday released its National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, guidelines aimed at filling the hundreds of thousands of vacancies in the nation’s cyber labor pool by ensuring candidates are equipped with the necessary skills to become cyber professionals. As Nextgov explains, the plan is organized into four pillars: equip Americans with foundational cyber skills; revamp cyber education; expand and enhance America’s cyber workforce; and strengthen the federal cyber workforce.
Deputy National Cyber Director Camille Stewart Gloster stated, “We are seeing that technology as it underpins increasingly everything that we do or access to services, we all must have a set of foundational cyber skills to thrive, and to build, and to engage and get jobs in the cyber workforce and to get jobs across the workforce.” Acting ONCD head Kemba Walden stressed the importance of a whole-of-society approach, as cooperation from non-government and private sector entities will be needed to provide funding and training opportunities. Walden told CyberScoop, “The national cyber director’s office can only really task federal departments and agencies, because realistically we need all of society. We need them to feel supported and heard and seen as we approach these ecosystem models.” Also, Walden noted, immigration reform will be required to increase retention of foreign-born cyber workers who have come to the US for training.
John Miller, Senior Vice President for Policy and General Counsel at global trade association the Information Technology Industry Council, applauded the strategy’s goals and timing and expressed the association’s commitment to supporting the White House’s plans. “It appropriately emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for a modern technology workforce. Executing this strategy can bolster the investments and resources needed to protect and defend the digital economy, secure the infrastructure that underpins it, and address the complex and evolving threat environment in an efficient way. We look forward to partnering with the Biden Administration to implement the strategy and advance the private-public collaboration necessary to meet today’s evolving cybersecurity workforce needs.”
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) also voiced its support of the strategy by announcing it would be renewing its CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program. Mirage News explains that the program will provide seven academic institutions with an additional $24 million over the next four years. NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan stated, "Through this program, NSF has helped more than 4,500 students get the degrees they need to be part of the cybersecurity workforce and helped them give back through public service. With this announcement, NSF reaffirms its commitment to invest in institutions that have demonstrated exceptional success and innovative advancements to their existing projects with the aim of fostering a robust workforce and growing interest in cybersecurity careers."