News in Brief

Treasure map, biometric ID, DISA devices and more

Shutterstock image: outgoing computer connections.

Latest Snowden documents: NSA Treasure Map program includes U.S. Net traffic

A National Security Agency program to monitor global Internet traffic is broader in scope than previously reported, according to a report from The Intercept and Der Spiegel. The report cited classified documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The New York Times reported on the “Treasure Map” program in November, with intelligence sources telling the Times that the program covers only foreign and Defense Department networks.

But the program is broader than that, according to the Intercept and Der Spiegel report, in that the leaked documents “clearly show that Treasure Map monitors traffic and devices inside the United States.” The program attempts to map the worldwide web by identifying and locating every device that is connected online; it “evokes a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries,” the report said.

FBI biometric ID system up and running

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's next-generation biometric identification system is now fully operational three years after the agency began its development in 2011.

The agency's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division announced full operational capability of the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System, that was developed to expand biometric identification capabilities and replace the agency’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

The FBI also rolled out two new operational capabilities under NGI. One of the new functionalities, called Rap Back, gives authorities the ability to receive ongoing status notifications of any criminal history reported on individuals holding positions of trust, such as school teachers. It added that law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, and other criminal justice entities can be advised of subsequent criminal activity of persons under investigation or supervision with Rap Back.

The second operational capability is the Interstate Photo System (IPS) facial recognition service that provides law enforcement an image-searching capability of photographs associated with criminal identities.

In the last few months, privacy advocates, from Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to the American Civil Liberties Union have pressed the FBI to conduct an assessment the NGI, alleging "serious privacy and civil liberties concerns."

DISA approves iOS, Android devices for Navy use

The Naval Enterprise Networks program expects its users to be able to use mobile iOS and Android devices by the end of the year, NEN announced Sept. 11.

After going through pilot tests, the Defense Information Systems Agency approved the iPhone 5c and 5s, the iPad Air, and the Samsung Galaxy S4 for use on the Navy Marine Corp Intranet, NEN said.

Report: Software bug approves plans without basic benefits under health care law

A flaw in a calculator that scores insurance plans for compliance with the 2010 health care law is approving some plans that lack basic hospitalization, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

The bug is reportedly affecting firms that self-insure by paying health costs directly, rather than using a managed care plan. While it's not clear if any employers are offering such coverage, the flaw does have the potential to affect workers who want hospitalization coverage, because the law doesn't permit individuals with qualifying employer-provided coverage to get subsidized premium support via the health care exchanges.

"There are a lot of errors in the calculator. It allows more plans to pass as qualifying coverage than we believe really do," Shannon Demaree, director of actuarial services at Lockton Companies, told Kaiser Health News.

Businesses such as temporary staffing agencies are among those most interested in plans on the lower-end of the value scale, according to the report. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury did not comment on the report.

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