Cisco Welcomes The House Passage of the Email Privacy Act

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The House of Representatives unanimously passed the Email Privacy Act, a bill that would reform ECPA ( Electronic Communications Privacy Act) were it to become law on Monday evening.

What is the ECPA and why does it need to be reformed?

In the beginning, ECPA protected Americans’ e-mail from warrantless surveillance — despite ECPA allowing the government to access e-mail without a court warrant if it was six months or older and stored on a third-party’s server. The tech world now refers to these servers as “the cloud,” and others just think of Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook and Gmail.

ECPA was adopted at a time when e-mail, for example, wasn’t stored on servers for a long time. Instead, e-mail was held there briefly before recipients downloaded it to their inbox on software running on their own computer.

During the Reagan administration, e-mail more than six months old was assumed abandoned, and that’s why the law allowed the government to get it without a warrant. At the time, there wasn’t much of any e-mail for the authorities to acquire because a consumer’s hard drive — not the cloud — hosted their inbox.

Source: Aging ‘Privacy’ Law Leaves Cloud E-Mail Open to Cops

 

Now with the Email Privacy Act passed it should help to reform the most outdated elements of the ECPA.

In particular, it would newly require government agencies to obtain a warrant before seizing a criminal suspect’s online communications that are more than 180 days old. Under the ECPA’s existing logic, those older communications are considered abandoned, and thus not subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Source: Passing the Email Privacy Act Has Never Been More Urgent

Basically

The legislation would require authorities such as the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission to obtain a search warrant to access emails, data in cloud storage and other digital communications more than 180 days old.[4][5]

Under current law—the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986—authorities can obtain such data by issuing an administrative subpoena to an Internet service provider, without the need to obtain judicial approval.[4][5][6] The Congressional Research Service reported in 2015 that: “In recent years, ECPA has faced increased criticism from both the tech and privacy communities that it has outlived its usefulness in the digital era and does not provide adequate privacy safeguards for individuals’ electronic communications. In light of these concerns, various reform bills have been introduced in the past several Congresses…”[7]

The Email Privacy Act would codify as federal law the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in United States v. Warshak (2010). In that case, the Sixth Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that the government obtain a warrant before accessing emails stored online (e.g., in the cloud).[6][8][9] The Warshak ruling currently applies only to the Sixth Circuit; the Email Privacy Act would extend its rule nationwide.[6][8]

Source: Wikiepedia Email Privacy Act

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Cisco is firmly behind the Email Privacy Act and has stated publicly that they have

..long supported updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to better protect customer data and communications stored with third-party providers against unwarranted searches and seizures. We, therefore, applaud the unanimous voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) introduced by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

This bipartisan legislation would require the government to obtain a probable cause warrant before demanding access to customer data in the cloud. We firmly believe that data stored in the cloud must receive equivalent legal protections against search and seizure to those accorded physical papers and electronic data stored on premises.

Source: Cisco Applauds Unanimous House Vote Passing Email Privacy Act

Today the house took a major step forward. Technology has made incredible advances over the years and it was about time the privacy laws catch up.

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Telecommunications Act of 1996, What is it and How Will it Affect the Telecommunications Industry?

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What is the Telecommunications act and why is it important. According to the FCC:

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has the potential to change the way we work, live and learn. It will affect telephone service — local and long distance, cable programming and other video services, broadcast services and services provided to schools. The Federal Communications Commission has a tremendous role to play in creating fair rules for this new era of competition.

Source: FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996

 

Even though the Act was supposed to provide wire to wire competition many thought the bill had not succeeded as legislators intended it to.

The Consumers Union reported:

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did not foster competition among ILECs as the bill had hoped. Instead, of ILECs encroaching on each other, the opposite occurred – mergers. Before the 1996 Act was passed, the largest four ILECs owned less than half of all the lines in the country while, five years later, the largest four local telephone companies owned about 85% of all the lines in the country.[22]

Source: Wikipedia Telecommunications Act of 1996

There are many today that agree with their report and would like nothing more than to see the Telecommunications Act repealed and replaced.

 

 

 

 

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Recode.net had this to say about the next big shift to come for the bill.

The big shift from 1996 to 2017 has been the convergence of once-separate media into one overarching digital medium known as the internet: Voice, music, news, photos, video — each of which was a separate medium and a separate industry — have converged as they all have become essentially bits in a single broadband bitstream. And old distinctions, like that between wired and wireless access, have become less meaningful as mobile networks move toward wider availability and higher performance. In the face of these changes, maintaining the regulation of communications in separate silos, represented by different bureaus within the FCC, seems increasingly archaic.

A major rewrite of the Communications Act is a big deal, but may actually happen despite the partisan atmosphere of Washington. Some lawmakers, including Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., whose committee has jurisdiction over such matters, has expressed his desire to begin updating the Act in earnest this year.

At the recent State of the Net conference in Washington, D.C., Thune said, “First, we need to modernize our communications laws to facilitate the growth of the Internet itself. And second, we need to update government policies to better reflect the innovations made possible by the Internet and other digital technologies.”

Some initial efforts in that direction have already been undertaken. Three years ago, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., launched what they acknowledged would be a multi-year effort to examine and update the Act. In 2014, they held an exploratory hearing on communications policy and issued a series of whitepapers on topics such as spectrum policy, competition policy, the role of the FCC, network interconnection, the FCC’s Universal Service Policy and regulation of the market for video content and distribution.

Source: Will the Telecommunications Act get a much-needed update as it turns 21?

The Aspen Institute created a new report, “Setting the Communications Policy Agenda for the New Administration,” to address the immediate future. The report was based on a meeting industry stakeholders, public interest advocates and other experts held this past summer, identifies several top priorities:

  • Supporting the transition to 5G
  • Providing more spectrum for mobile broadband
  • Supporting innovation and modernization of telecom
  • Expanding access
  • Improving cyber security

There are definitely some key issues that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing exactly what will change, if anything and how it will affect the telecommunications industry as a whole. Stay tuned.

You can find more Telecommunications News right here.

 

New Town Hall Phone System to cost $65K, too much?

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In the Cape Cod community of Falmouth, MA. Their committee just voted in favor of upgrading their old, outdated town hall phone system that they are currently using.

Well, using is stretching it a bit. They’ve been having some issues with the phone system over the past year. Over the last few months they haven’t be able to receive any voicemails and the calls are then disconnected after a few rings.

Finance Director Jennifer Petit said because of the failing state of the town hall phone system, the town opted to bring an article to Town Meeting in April instead of waiting to fund the upgrades in November.

“The voicemail isn’t working, so we need to get this done right away,” she said.

Committee member Susan Smith suggested that the new system could be installed even sooner if the project were paid for with reserve funds. Ms. Petit said that would not expedite the installation, however, as a plan is still being worked out for how to switch out the existing system.

Committee member Peter J. Hargraves asked if the new system will be compatible with phone systems in other town buildings. Mr. Lowell said that it will, thanks to town buildings’ connection to the OpenCape network. The fiber optic network has enabled high-speed Internet connectivity. Voice-over IP operates over the Internet.

Source: New Phone System To Cost $65,000

The town hall manager, Julian M. Suso, felt that repairing the current phone system would have been “poorly spent” to try to fix the almost extinct phone system. The parts to fix the current system are not available anymore and any new parts would have to be installed.

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They initially estimated funds to replace the old system be around $30,000 to $50,000. But the new number of $65,000 will cover the purchase of 90 phones and software for a VoIP system, at $45,000 and then the remaining $20,000 would cover the cost of wiring and installing the new system.

Their police and fire departments have already went through some upgrades to their phone systems, with the library slated for next on their list.

A VoIP system that costs $65,000 installed, is it worth it? Well. according to the people in Falmouth, absolutely! One of my favorite quotes from committee member Susan Smith was

“Ninety-year-old people don’t go to the website”

Source: Committee Insists On Fixes To Town Hall Phone System

No mention of the current system they were replacing after 15 years. What’s your best guess?

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Largetst Trove of Government Secrets Ever Stolen

Over 50TB gov’t classified data stolen

Government cyber security measures are front and center again with the latest news a former NSA contractor, Harold Martin, as a Booz Allen Hamilton employee, stole the largest trove of government secrets ever.

And yes you are correct, Edward Snowden also worked as an NSA contractor AND was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton as well, but unlike Snowden, the government is tight lipped on whether or not he actually did something with the data.

Former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin was indicted today on 20 criminal counts for stealing government documents and data in his capacity as a Booz Allen Hamilton employee, according to Reuters . Each of the 20 charges carries with it a sentence of up to 10 years.
Source: NSA contractor indicted for stealing more than 50TB of government secrets

His security clearance allowed him to steal documents from the CIA, the US Cyber Command, and the National Reconnaissance Office.

Just goes to show most major breaches, usually originate with someone with extremely close proximity.

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Government IT Still Ok Despite Trump Freeze?

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With President Trump making news with his latest signing, freezing government jobs. It looks like it’s not ALL jobs are affected. The Government IT jobs will be a bit tougher to get because of the signing, but it’s still very possible for those in the Defense and Cybersecurity positions.

Defense agencies are big users of IT and appear to be unaffected by the freeze. Cybersecurity hiring is a major impetus at civilian agencies and, depending on how broadly the government defines IT jobs related to “public security,” there could still be quite a bit of hiring.

Cybersecurity-related hiring was a top IT priority in the last year of President Barack Obama’s administration. It follows high-profile government breaches, including some 20 million records from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Source: Trump's federal hiring freeze won't kill government IT hiring

As to be expected, not everyone is on board with a government hiring freeze. In fact an independent watchdog, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GOA), issued a report stating that a hiring freezes had very little effect on actual federal employment levels and it was unknown whether they even saved the government money.

The last time there was a federal hiring freeze was in 1982.

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