Morning Security Brief: Open Carry Banned in California, Android Malware, Drug Legislation, and More

By Carlton Purvis

 ►On Monday, California became the fifth state to prohibit openly carrying handguns in public after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the ban into law. The law makes it a misdemeanor to carry an exposed gun or to have one exposed in a vehicle. Violators will face up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine. Brown said law enforcement officials have been concerned about the proliferation of guns in public and the tense situations that arise when someone sees another person carrying a firearm in public, the Associated Press reported. Law enforcement agencies have applauded the law, while gun advocates are calling it “tyranny.” Many say the law further restricts their second amendment rights because of California’s already strict standards for a concealed carry permit.

►A new Trojan affecting Android devices has been linked to German law enforcement who have been using the malware to record Skype calls and upload programs. German courts in the past have permitted police to use Bundestrojaner to record Skype conversations if there is legal permission for a wiretap, SC Magazine reports. According to research by the Chaos Computer Club, one of the main dangers of the Trojan is that is was created with very few technical safeguards so, in addition to allowing law enforcement access, it would allow a hacker easy access as well.

►The House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 313, the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011, on Thursday. If it becomes law, it would make it a federal crime for U.S. citizens to discuss or plan activities in another country that in the U.S. would violate the Controlled Substances Act. This includes if the activity is legal where the discussing or planning takes place. "Under this bill, if a young couple plans a wedding in Amsterdam, and as part of the wedding, they plan to buy the bridal party some marijuana, they would be subject to prosecution," the Huffington Post quoted Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

►After 9-11, Homeland Security’s focus shifted toward stopping terrorism and away from threats to the nation’s food supply. Now the country is dealing with a “pest explosion” of invasive species that have cost billions of dollars in crop damage. “Hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department,” the New York Daily News reports. “The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests.”

►In other news, as U.S. troops prepare for a reduced presence in Afghanistan, Guardians of Peace, a U.S.-supported program that encourages Afghan citizens to call telephone hotlines to anonymously report insurgent activity, turns a year old. If a tip is investigated and turns out to be useful to Afghan National Security or coalition forces, the caller can call back and claim a reward. ⇒ And European lawmakers are not too keen on an information sharing plan proposed by the Department of Homeland Security that would allow the U.S. to retain international travel data of airline passengers for 15 years, the Vancouver Sun reports. Additionally, the EU says the U.S. should only be collecting information from the “bad guys.” “We don’t know who all the bad guys are,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said at a hearing in defense of the plan.




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