Switchboard: TSA starts snooping on us long before we get to the airport

October 23, 2013

(Photo by dan paluska)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

Security check now starts long before you fly. "The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its screening of passengers before they arrive at the airport by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information," according to the New York Times. "While the agency says that the goal is to streamline the security procedures for millions of passengers who pose no risk, the new measures give the government greater authority to use travelers’ data for domestic airport screenings. Previously that level of scrutiny applied only to individuals entering the United States."

Update: In a blog post, the TSA says that the program described by the New York Times story isn't new, and that it doesn't involve expanded surveillance of low-risk travelers.

Administration releases preliminary cybersecurity standards. "The Obama administration released a highly anticipated set of cybersecurity standards for private industry on Tuesday," the Hill reports. "The preliminary rules are intended to help critical infrastructure operators, such as power plants and telecommunications companies, better protect their systems from hackers. The president directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a Commerce Department agency, to come up with the standards as part of his executive order from February. "

NSA surveillance creeps onto tech’s lobbying agenda. "Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech powerhouses have mounted a quiet new lobbying push" related to reforms of the National Security Agency, Politico writes. "Thrust into the spotlight as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks, these industry leaders historically haven’t voiced loud support for restraining the NSA’s legal authorities to collect data. But many tech firms’ third-quarter lobbying reports, filed Monday night and totaling millions of dollars, demonstrate Silicon Valley is devoting more of its bandwidth to an emerging surveillance debate that could affect many companies’ bottom lines."

Alleged Silk Road drug dealer said to be an informant, then got arrested. "Earlier this month, we reported on the arrest and indictment of a Washington state couple that had been selling on The Silk Road, the infamous Tor-enabled online market," according to Ars Technica. "This week it was revealed that one of the two, Steven Lloyd Sadler, was also a federal informant. Sadler was behind the 'Nod' account on Silk Road, one of the top seller accounts on the site, according to the government."

Goodlatte to introduce patent reform bill. "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is set to introduce his patent reform bill tomorrow," the Hill reports. "According to patent reform advocates who have spoken with Goodlatte’s staff, the bill introduced tomorrow will be very similar to his most recent discussion draft."

More stories

FCC forced to play catch-up after shutdown (Politico)

Silicon Valley readies immigration push (The Hill)

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