NSA IT, a better interface for CBP, data worries and more

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NSA looks to IT to lock down systems, protect privacy

The National Security Agency spent about $30 million and devoted 300 people to compliance efforts in 2013, according to the Oct. 7 report of the agency's Civil Liberties and Privacy Office.

The recent report covers signals intelligence collection for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence authorized under Executive Order 12333, and specifically the rights of U.S. persons whose data is caught up in the NSA dragnet. The NSA uses a mix of training, compliance procedures, and compartmentalization of activities as part of overall efforts to minimize exposure of data on U.S. persons to unauthorized use. From an IT perspective, NSA efforts address data privacy and insider threat concerns. The NSA is researching in an area called Private Information Retrieval with the goal of improving "data security and privacy protection by cryptographically preventing unauthorized users from accessing protected data," per the report. The research taps commercial technology to secure the computing environment, validate program activity, secure searches, and minimize harm when adverse activity is detected.

The CLPO was established in Jan. 2014 to "ensure that civil liberties and privacy protection considerations are integrated into NSA's mission activities."

TIA taps Belcher as CEO

Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, was named CEO of the Telecommunications Industry Association. He will step into the newly created post Nov. 9.

Belcher's diverse management experience spans 25 years and covers both public- and private-sector roles -- including a seven year term with ITS America, four years as executive vice president and general counsel for the National Academy of Public Administration and five years as managing director for environmental affairs and associate general counsel for the Air Transport Association, according to his LinkedIn profile.

CBP adds query capability to ACE

Customs and Border Protection has added a new automated broker's interface query capability to its automated commercial environment, which allows international shippers to request cargo, manifest and entry record status information on file in the ACE system. The query capability, said the agency, will be available on Oct. 18 for ABI filers.

According to CBP, the capabilities the new cargo query will provide include processing status for an ACE cargo release entry, cargo manifest details and other key shipping data. The agency has set Oct. 1, 2015, as the deadline for mandatory use of ACE for all electronic filings in its cargo processing system.

Twitter sues Uncle Sam

Social media giant Twitter sued the U.S. government on Oct. 7, alleging that restrictions on disclosures of the scope of government surveillance of Twitter users are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleged that "the U.S. government engages in extensive but incomplete speech about the scope of its national security surveillance activities as they pertain to U.S. communications providers, while at the same time prohibiting service providers such as Twitter from providing their own."

Twitter is forbidden by law from revealing the precise number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders it receives "even if that number is zero," Ben Lee, a vice president at Twitter, wrotein a blog post.

Poll: Most Americans assume their data is being collected and sold

A new Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Intel Corp. found that 65 percent of U.S. smartphone and tablet users "have no idea who has access to data from their devices." And fully 84 percent of all Americans believe that data from or about them is being collected and sold to third parties.

The poll also found that many respondents were willing to freely share their data if there is a clear public benefit -- so long as sensitive personal information is excluded.

CMS contract draws protest from Deloitte

Deloitte Consulting has filed a bid protest over a Centers for Medicaid and Medicare award won by rival IBM Corp., Washington Technology reports. IBM was chosen to the prime contractor for CMS' $36 million Unified Case Management Systems Integrator and Support Services Contract.

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