New Report: “A Comparison between US and EU Data Protection Legislation for Law Enforcement”

Please see this report, “commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department
for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE
Committee [Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs],” here.

From the Executive Summary of the report:

Generally, it can be concluded that the EU data protection framework in the law enforcement sector is shaped by comprehensive data protection guarantees, which are codified in EU primary and secondary law and are accompanied by EU and ECtHR case law. In contrast, US data protection guarantees in the law enforcement and national security contexts are sector specific and are therefore contained within the specific instruments which empower US agencies to process personal data. They vary according to the instruments in place and are far less comprehensive.
Above all, constitutional protection is limited. US citizens may invoke protection through the Fourth Amendment and the Privacy Act, but the data protection rights granted in the law enforcement sector are limitedly interpreted with a general tendency to privilege law enforcement and national security interests. Moreover, restrictions to data protection in the law enforcement sector are typically not restricted by proportionality considerations, reinforcing the structural and regular preference of law enforcement and national security interests over the interests of individuals. Regarding the scope and applicability of rights, non-US persons are usually not protected by the existing, already narrowly interpreted, guarantees. The same is true with regards to other US law. When data protection guarantees do exist in federal law, they usually do not include protection for non-US persons.

Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services has recently (February 26, 2015) made available

Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

of the Director of National Intelligence.

New Email-Alerts System from U.S. Library of Congress for Tracking Legislative Action on

Earlier this month the U.S. Library of Congress made available — on — “a new optional email-alerts system that makes tracking legislative action even easier.”

Please see the explanatory news release “ Offers Users New Alert System” of 5-Feb-2015 here.

Legal Affairs Committee of Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly States that Mass Surveillance Practices “Endanger Fundamental Human Rights”

A new report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Council of Europe states that the mass surveillance practices disclosed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden “endanger fundamental human rights.”

The report is here.

Please see the accompanying press release here.

“PubAg,” User-Friendly Search Engine, Debuts at the U.S. National Agricultural Library

The U.S. National Agricultural Library (NAL) has debuted PubAg, a user-friendly search engine, which provides “enhanced access” to the public to search for and obtain research published by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Please see here for the USDA’s press release about PubAg.

New Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on CyberCrime

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) earlier this month posted a new report:

Cybercrime: An Overview of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute and Related Federal Criminal Laws
by Charles Doyle
From the report’s Summary:

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, outlaws conduct that victimizes computer systems. It is a cyber security law. It protects federal computers, bank computers, and computers connected to the Internet. It shields them from trespassing, threats, damage, espionage, and from being corruptly used as instruments of fraud. It is not a comprehensive provision, but instead it fills cracks and gaps in the protection afforded by other federal criminal laws. This is a brief sketch of CFAA and some of its federal statutory companions, including the amendments found in the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act, P.L. 110-326, 122 Stat. 3560 (2008).

World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) “Living Planet Report 2014”

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recently released its Living Planet Report 2014 — for the full report, please see here.

Unfortunately, biodiversity on earth seems to be in worse shape than ever and is declining in both temperate and tropical regions of the earth, although the decline is reportedly greater in the tropics.

Per U.S. Library of Congress, Is No Longer in Beta Phase

Per the U.S. Library of Congress, — the successor to THOMAS — is no longer in its beta phase — please see the following news release: Officially Out of Beta

From the news release, here are some new features/enhancements:

  1. New Feature: Resources
    – A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
    – An expanded list of “most viewed” bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014
  2. New Feature: House Committee Hearing Videos
    – Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012
  3. Improvement: Advanced Search
    – Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member
  4. Improvement: Browse
    – Days in session calendar view
    – Roll Call votes
    – Bill by sponsor/co-sponsor

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Digitizes Millions of Files — including Fingerprint Cards and Criminal History Folders

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently digitized millions of its files — including fingerprint cards and criminal history folders.

Please see:

CJIS [Criminal Justice Information Services] Digitizes Millions of Files in Modernization Push

U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)”

The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) issued its “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702″ [50 U.S. Code § 1881a – Procedures for targeting certain persons outside the United States other than United States persons] of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on July 2, 2014.

The accompanying PCLOB press release is here.

For some explanation of and materials about FISA please see here and here and here.