360° Coverage : Obama's First Privacy Chief Backs NSA's Right To Spy...

2 Updates

Obama's First Privacy Chief Backs NSA's Right To Spy - With Reform

May 14 2014, 12:53pm CDT | by

“We are spying in a transparent world.” So claimed Timothy Edgar, President Obama’s first-ever director of privacy and civil liberties for the White House National Security Staff, at Britain’s...

Filed under: news


22 weeks ago

Obama's First Privacy Chief Backs NSA's Right To Spy - With Reform

May 14 2014, 12:53pm CDT | by

“We are spying in a transparent world.”

So claimed Timothy Edgar, President Obama’s first-ever director of privacy and civil liberties for the White House National Security Staff, at Britain’s Parliament today. Even with the emergence of new proposed limitations on the NSA’s unprecedented data collection, the crux was that nation-states engagement in broad-based surveillance is now an intrinsic component to realpolitik, in a digital planet running on big data.

Joined by Privacy International’s director Gus Hosein, and British MPs Julian Huppert, David Davis and Chi Onwurah, and hosted by Big Brother Watch, Edgar detailed the rise and rise of the secret surveillance state and its murky legal basis beginning with the Bush administration’s introduction of and exploitation of the Patriot Act to its continued use under the Obama administration. Edgar insisted in his address that now more than ever rules and reform are necessary in securing protections for American citizens and people all over the world.

Outlining his vision in line with a Guardian Op-Ed piece earlier this year, Edgar asserted that if America is to be at ease with its allies and act diplomatically first instead of using coercion, the civil liberties and private affairs of foreign citizens must be taken into account as well as those of Americans. This notion is beginning to take root within the intelligence community, which, he says, is a leap in thinking.

Despite the tough talk on balancing security and liberty, there was the sense of a whitewash. It’s hard to swallow the idea that more oversight alone will go a long way towards solving problems in a country unique in the extent of its oversight, as Edgar emphasized. Even if the NSA was subject to legal restrictions, the scale of state spying was unconfirmed until the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The collection of vast amounts of metadata was left essentially untouched in Obama’s proposed directive in January this year, and so the problem here is that applying these limitations presumes a legitimacy of the NSA’s methods.

In Edgar’s eyes, intelligence services have a mission that’s “broader than counter-intelligence,” and he believes that this is “appropriate.”

“That doesn’t mean that collection initiatives can’t be more limited than they are for counter terrorism,” he said. “We could distinguish between the reasons we need intelligence collection, and have stricter rules for a broader collection than we do for genuine security threats. But I think it would be naive to assume we are going to limit intelligence collection to only international security threats.”

Can even the smallest victories in reform be effective, so long as agencies operating in the dark are prepared to maneuver through legal loopholes to get what they want? The wheels may be in motion for a light touch of legislation, but what’s being proposed is not much more than damage control. Edgar was asked about the potential for stricter legislation but his answer was a quasi-vigilant wait-and-see.

“I don’t think we know yet,” Edgar said. “They haven’t actually implemented the entire directive. The Director of National Intelligence is putting together proposed limits, and the General Counsel is meeting with human rights groups next week I don’t think the world should trust the American government simply because Obama made a speech. Obama’s good at making speeches – the question is whether there are limits that result in effective reforms.”

“If, in 5 or 10 years, we have scandals about why the NSA broke the rules that protect the privacy rights of foreigners, that’s going to mean that the rules are taken seriously, that’s going to mean there’s an oversight system that’s catching potential violations of those rules.  But if in 10 years nobody remembers there was supposedly a directive in January 2014 to put some reforms in place, then you should probably be suspicious that nothing really has changed,” he said.

Privacy International’s Gus Hosein aired his own ominous predictions on the short and long-term potential effects if the Five Eyes nations, the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, carry on as they are.

“There are dark implications of our actions,” Hosein explained. “Governments around the world are rubbing their hands with glee because this government paved the way for mass surveillance, and they are thinking we can do the same.

“The French are giggling, let alone every country in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, who is buying British technology that does exactly the same thing.

“Not only are we inspiring, but we are providing the technologies to enable what this [Britain's] government is doing, what the US is doing. At least the US is being held to account to some extent. A lot more work needs to be done here, because if we don’t do it, it’s going to be disastrous.”

Perhaps what’s worth highlighting is that this conversation would not have seen the light of day without Snowden – who himself claimed to have exhausted all of the official channels for oversight before going public. And that suggests an altogether more radical approach may be required than slightly more oversight, even if the latter is a small step in the right direction.


7 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new compan ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


7 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17 ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

How a rare pathogen could infect the healthiest of people
Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) A unique evolutionary trait in a rare pathogen called Cryptococcus gattii allows it to infect even the healthiest of hosts through a mechanism that neutralises the body's immune response against it, a study showed.
Implantable eye devices that improve vision
Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) Scientists have developed implantable eye devices that improve vision and could soon become a viable alternative for ageing eyes.
Virus infection ups diabetes risk in kids
Taipei, Oct 19 (IANS) Children who have been infected with enterovirus are around 50 percent more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes, says a study.
Depression and ageing linked to single gene
London, Oct 19 (IANS) A group of researchers from Germany and the US has found that both ageing and depression are associated with changes in a single gene.

Latest from the Network

Bush shoe-tossing painting hits record at Doha auction
Doha, Oct 15 (IANS/EFE) A controversial painting by Iranian artist Mahmud Obaidi, depicting an Iraqi journalist throwing shoe in 2008 at then US president George W. Bush, was sold for $62,500 at a Sotheby's auction in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
US offers $45 mn bounty for eight terror leaders
Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The US said Tuesday it is offering rewards totalling up to 45 million dollars for information on eight key leaders of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organisation. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
UNSC extends peacekeeping mission's term in Abyei
United Nations, Oct 15 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan. In an unanimously adopted resolution, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
Ebola cases in West Africa could reach 10,000 per week: WHO
Geneva, Oct 15 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could reach 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week by the first week of December. "Quite frankly, ladies and...
Read more on Business Balla
Turkey, Singapore sign strategic partnership agreement
Ankara, Oct 15 (IANS) Turkey and Singapore have signed a strategic partnership agreement to boost economic, political and cultural cooperation, as well as security collaboration, during the official visit of...
Read more on Politics Balla
Christina Aguilera is returning to 'The Voice' USA
Christina Aguilera will return to 'The Voice' USA next year. The 'Your Body' hitmaker, who previously shared a rotating spot on the judging panel with Shakira, has been replaced by Gwen Stefani this season as she is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Kesha's music producer hits back
Kesha is being countersued by her record company boss, Dr. Luke. The 41-year-old music producer, who runs Kemosabe Records, claims the 27-year-old 'Tik Tok' singer is a liar and is trying to extort him after she accused...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Jason Derulo won't get back together with Jordin Sparks
Jason Derulo insists his split from Jordin Sparks is permanent. The 'Talk Dirty' hitmaker, who recently ended his relationship with the 'No Air' singer after three years of dating, has ruled out getting back together...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Josh Groban feels 'very lucky' to be dating Kat Dennings
Josh Groban feels ''very lucky'' to be dating Kat Dennings. The 'Brave' hitmaker was very nervous before singing in front of the '2 Broke Girls' actress for the first time at the Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverly Hills,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Australian Richard Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker prize
London, Oct 15 (IANS) The first Man Booker prize to allow American nominees was Tuesday night won by an Australian, with Richard Flanagan triumphing for a novel of love and war that tells the harrowing stories of...
Read more on Celebrity Balla