Morning Security Brief: Vetting Utility Workers, 911 Tapes, Verizon Strike, and More
A U.S. lawmaker introduces legislation for doing background checks on utility workers. North Carolina will begin to alter 911 tapes to protect victims. Tel Aviv University has developed a hand-held date rape drug detector. And more.
►Currently, nuclear power plants are the only utilities that require employees to undergo background checks before being hired. After reading a recent Department of Homeland Security report that said insider sabotage at gas, electric, and water utility companies was a national security threat, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced plans to introduced legislation that would require major utility plants to run checks on employees. “The New York Democrat said he would introduce legislation making it mandatory for all major utilities and critical infrastructure plants to run FBI background checks on workers with access to sensitive areas within utilities, when Congress reconvenes next month,” Reuters reports.
►In North Carolina, the voices in 911 tapes will be altered before they are released to the public. Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. and fellow Democratic Sen. Bob Atwater previously introduced legislation to better "shield 911 callers from intimidation and threats." It passed the Senate and the House unanimously. The new policy allows law enforcement to use editing software to distort the voice of 911 callers and first responders. It also allows law enforcement agencies to choose to release only a transcript of a call instead of the actual audio. “McKissick said voices on 911 recordings have been recognized in the past, and that especially in gang crime cases, callers were intimidated into dropping charges or refusing to testify,” the News and Observer reports.
►As the strike by 45,000 Verizon workers enters its second week, the FBI is investigating alleged acts of sabotage by the workers up and down the East Coast. Incidents of telephone wires being cut and tampering with distribution boxes have been reported, including 28 acts of sabotage in the Washington, D.C. area alone. “According to reports, the FBI is viewing the alleged acts of sabotage as a ‘security’ matter since the communications of a hospital and a police station were affected,” the International Business Times reports. The phone boxes appeared to have been opened with a universal key used by workers who perform maintenance on them, authorities in New England told the media.
►Researchers from Tel Aviv University have developed a hand-held device that can detect the date rape drugs GHB and ketamine in drinks. Initial tests shows it is 100 percent accurate. The developers hope to eventually market an affordable commercial version. ⇒The Office of Naval Research announced testing of a new munitions casing that would increase the “probability of a catastrophic kill.” Recent tests show the casings could be integrated into naval missiles. ⇒ And The Business Age reports Russia has destroyed half of its chemical weapons .