Daily Digest (9/16)

FISA Court Approves Warrantless Surveillance, Warns FBI on Privacy Rules; 46K US Veterans Hacked in Data Breach; US Lawmakers Skeptical on Oracle-TikTok Deal; 2.4M People Found in Chinese Database. Click “Continue reading” below.

FISA Court Approves Warrantless Surveillance, Warns FBI on Privacy Rules

For the rest of the year, the warrantless surveillance program will continue, according to a declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court ruling from last December.

The law allows federal law enforcement to collect telephone calls and emails of noncitizens residing in the U.S., CPO Magazine reports.

Certain privacy rules, however, deem this surveillance as eavesdropping, though the FISA report said the FBI usually disregarded privacy while applying their quarries.

The program initially was meant to only gather communications from foreign parties that were potentially linked to terrorist activity, but it’s now being used on U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike, CPO reports.

In signing the order, the judge warned the FBI that even though they could utilize warrantless surveillance, federal agencies needed to examine privacy rules first.

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46K US Veterans Hacked in Data Breach

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) said Monday that thousands of veterans were targeted in a data breach.

The VA said 46,000 veterans had their personal information illegally accessed, Infosecurity reports.

“A preliminary review indicates these unauthorized users gained access to the application to change financial information and divert payments from VA,” the VA said in a statement.

“The department is also offering access to credit-monitoring services, at no cost, to those whose Social Security numbers were compromised,” the agency said.

In order to protect the veterans, the VA is alerting all those affected in the incident and contacting family members of affected deceased veterans, Infosecurity reports.

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US Lawmakers Skeptical on Oracle-TikTok Deal

U.S. lawmakers of both parties voiced skepticism Tuesday about a proposed deal between Oracle and China’s Bytedance that appears to stop short of a full sale of the social media app TikTok to a U.S. firm.

Oracle said Monday that it was part of a proposal submitted by Bytedance to the U.S. Treasury Department to serve as “trusted technology provider” to Bytedance, with no further details on the deal, Reuters reports.

President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to see an outright sale of TikTok to a U.S. company, raising questions about the deal’s approval amid concerns that U.S. user data could be passed on to China’s government.

Trump’s executive order otherwise would ban TikTok in the U.S. as early as Sept. 20.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, Mo., told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter that the proposal should be rejected.

“An ongoing ‘partnership’ that allows for anything other than the full emancipation of the TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Party control is completely unacceptable, and flatly inconsistent with the president’s executive order,” Hawley wrote.

However, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Conn., stopped short of demanding the deal be scuttled but sought key assurances.

“I want specific, ironclad commitments on how Oracle & ByteDance will guarantee users’ privacy, cybersecurity, & freedom of expression,” he tweeted.

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2.4M People Found in Chinese Database

A Chinese database has been found to contain the personal information of 2.4 million people living outside Beijing, a U.S. academic researcher revealed Tuesday.

The researcher, Chris Balding, an associate professor at the Fulbright University Vietnam, which receives funding from the U.S. government, alleged that the database was enabling influence operations against prominent international people, The Register.com reports.

“The information specifically targets individuals and institutions across a variety of industries,” Balding wrote in a blog post. “From politics to organized crime, the database flows from sectors in the Chinese state.”

The database contains details of politicians, diplomats, activists, academics and other influential people who may be targets of Chinese analysts, according to the Register.

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— By DPN Staff