Tag Archives: Electronic Privacy

Apple’s Tim Cook Opposes More Federal Access To Customer Data

WASHINGTON – Opposition to back door access to encrypted information by intelligence agencies was defended by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In an interview for “60 Minutes” broadcast, Cook said “There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.”

A renewed push by politicians and law enforcement has come in the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks on Paris, when attackers were said to have used encrypted devices to coordinate and execute attacks outside the purview of government surveillance.

While the interview with Cook had been filmed prior to the Paris attack, the CEO has since emphasized his support for protecting encryption, saying the choice between privacy and national security was a false one.

“I don’t believe the tradeoff here is privacy versus national security,” he said, adding that’s an “overly simplistic view…We’re America. We should have both.”

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) has been a contentious issue in the tech community over the past year. The measure allows for direct sharing of consumer data and information with the surveillance community. Many provisions in previous versions of the bill which called for anonymity of that data were stripped out of the version of the bill which passed as a part of the omnibus budget.

“Organizations can now directly share raw data with several agencies with no protection or anonymity,” said engineer Joseph Pizzo with Norse Security. “There may have been a small cost associated with anonymizing the data, but now that this requirement has been removed and organizations may feel that they’re helping, I don’t foresee any work moving forward to protect consumer data.”

Candidates including Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have advocated for the ability for intelligence agencies to circumvent encryption during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Montana Becomes First State To Pass Law Protecting Journalists’ Electronic Privacy

Last week, Montana became the first state to include a provision in its Media Confidentiality Act that protected journalists’ electronic communications from the government when Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill “prohibiting disclosure of media info from electronic communications services.”

HB 207 was authored by Daniel Zolnikov, a Liberty-minded Republican representative from Billings, and was created to close a loophole in the existing law that gave government entities access to journalists’ electronic communications through third party providers.

Zolnikov tells Benswann.com that his bill ensures that journalists in Montana can use modern technology to safely and securely report important news, by protecting their electronic communications from government intrusion.

“A free press is vital to government transparency and accountability,” Zolnikov said. “This bill is a perfect example of how we can maintain our constitutional rights as technology advances.”

The text of the bill states that it both prohibits “governmental bodies from questing or requiring the disclosure of privileged news media information from services that transmit electronic communications,” and prohibits “an electronic communication service from being adjudged in contempt” if that service “refuses to disclose certain information.”

Zolnikov tells Benswann.com that he created the bill to help Montana set the precedent at the state level for the rest of the nation.

Freedom of the press is one of the most crucial rights contained in the First Amendment,” Zolnikov said. “The federal government has cracked down on whistleblowers and journalists in the past few years, and many have said this has a ‘chilling effect’ on news reporting.”

As previously reported, HB 207 is one of several bills Zolnikov has sponsored that promotes the protection of Americans’ electronic privacy. One bill that was sponsored by Zolnikov, which made Montana the first state in the nation to require a search warrant for cell phone location information, was passed during the 2013 legislative session, just months before Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program.

Exclusive Interview: Liberty Republican Setting the Standard for Electronic Privacy in Montana

Daniel Zolnikov, 28, a liberty-minded Republican State Representative in Montana is entering the 2015 legislative session with a list of bills that he hopes will set the standard for the nation, in terms of protecting Americans’ electronic privacy.

Zolnikov is currently a representative for the district of Billings, and he tells Benswann.com that in order to become part of the state legislature in Montana, it wasn’t about the amount of money he had to raise, it was about the time he had to spend knocking on doors and reaching out to the public.

During the 2013 legislative session, Zolnikov sponsored a bill that made Montana the first state in the nation to require a search warrant for cell phone location information. A couple of months after the bill was passed, Edward Snowden revealed the massive surveillance program the National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting.

Zolnikov recalls that it wasn’t until the Snowden leaks became a national story that other states followed Montana’s lead and began to enact digital privacy laws.

Even with that kind of accomplishment, there was no real success because now we know that the NSA is collecting all of your data and we’re in a very bad spot,” said Zolnikov. “It’s like one person versus a whole army sometimes.”

Entering the 2015 legislative session, Zolnikov tells Benswann.com that his main focus is on enacting “a whole new variety of legislation” that deals with protecting citizens’ electronic privacy and making the government follow the procedures that “have been in place for centuries.”

Zolnikov explained that one of the ways the U.S. Government is “ignoring the Fourth Amendment” and obtaining citizens’ electronic information without their knowledge is through a loophole called the third party doctrine. This doctrine states that if an individual sends an email through a server such as Google or Yahoo, the information loses the expectation of privacy when their digital communications use a “third party” to send it.

The third party doctrine allows for electronic spying and the stealing of electronic communication, because they say there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy,” said Zolnikov. “Most people don’t understand that.”

Another bill Zolnikov is sponsoring this session is a bill that would ban license plate readers in the state of Montana. He explained that this bill would prohibit the government from tracking citizens based on pictures of their license plates, and GPS and Bluetooth signals emitted from their phones.

As previously reported, the American Civil Liberties Union recently “revealed the existence of a national program operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration that collects and analyzes license plate information,” and has as many as “343 million records in the National License Plate Recognition program.”

Zolnikov tells Benswann.com that he is able to pass laws protecting electronic privacy in the state, due to the fact that “Montana is very liberty-minded.”

If we start passing these well put-together bills, other states will start following and passing them. Once other states start passing them, it puts pressure on Congress,” said Zolnikov. “I’d rather do something at the state level than complain that the Federal level is doing nothing.”