Morning Security Brief: DHS and National Parks, Cybersanctions, Tracking Cell Phone Data Requests, and More
House Republicans look to enhance DHS powers along the border. New sanctions issued against Iran and Syria. Legislation would require cell phone companies to disclose when they give information to authorities. And more.
►House Republicans are supporting legislation that would give DHS control of national parks within 50 miles of U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. “The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act, sponsored by conservative Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, would give Border Patrol and Customs agents and other federal officials the right to suspend any federal law, including environmental laws, on land managed by the departments of Interior and Agriculture. It would give Homeland Security the right to conduct any activity or construct any facility required to secure the border,” the Seattle Times reports. Park advocates call the legislation overreaching because DHS already has the power to suspend laws that inhibit its operations. The bill would override 36 federal laws that protect historic sites and wildlife. Republicans argue that laws like the Wilderness Act, which prohibits motorized access to protected land, impede border agents from operating freely.
►U.S. President Barack Obama announced new cybersanctions against Syria and Iran while speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Specific targets of the sanctions include Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard, Syria's General Security Directorate, and state-controlled mobile phone company Syriatel. The executive orders, signed on Sunday, authorize financial and travel restrictions against anyone who helps Syria or Iran spy on its own citizens. “The White House said that the restrictions were primarily aimed at entities based inside the two countries, but that American technology companies had been consulted and understood that compliance would now be part of their standard due diligence in international contracts,” the New York Times reports.
►Cell phone companies are trying to fight proposed legislation that would require them to publicly disclose the number of times they turn over cell phone information to authorities. California’s SB 1434 would prohibit carriers from turning over cell phone data without a warrant. That data includes phone locations and GPS data. A provision in the bill mandates companies keep track of when that data is requested and publish that information online. The cell phone industry says it would cause additional burden on them to have to compile that information, but the ACLU says they already keep that information because they bill law enforcement and send an invoice for the time it takes to pull it.
►In other news, Mexican lawmakers have called for authorities to investigate allegations of bribery revealed by the New York Times . ♦ The Iranian oil ministry was hit by a cyberattack that takes its internal communications offline. ♦ Carlos Miller, a journalist, obtained records that show he was targeted for arrest by the Miami-Dade Homeland Security team for covering the Occupy protests. “The emails, which Miller acquired via a Freedom of Information Act request, show that hours before his arrest on January 31, MDPD's Homeland Security bureau sent out an alert titled ‘Multimedia information/ Situational Awareness’ that included Miller's Facebook profile picture,” the Miami New-Times reports.