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From the Inevitable Files: Lawmakers Scrutinize Snowden-China Connections

From the Inevitable Files: Lawmakers Scrutinize Snowden-China Connections

Today in international tech news: U.S. lawmakers mull a possible Eric Snowden/China connection; Germany is up in arms about PRISM ahead of Obama's visit; the EU will require new cars to have devices that automatically call for help in case of a crash; and the UK starts blocking pirate proxies.

By David Vranicar
06/14/13 11:36 AM PT

Well, this was bound to happen.

U.S. lawmakers said Thursday that the House Intelligence Committee -- the same House Intelligence Committee that trashed Chinese telecommunications companies last year -- will conduct a "thorough scrub" of connections between China and Eric Snowden.

Snowden -- a "traitor," according to Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R.-Mich. -- is reportedly responsible for last week's leaks blowing the top off of the U.S. National Security Agency's PRISM data-collecting program. He is now believed to be in Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of... China.

The U.S. must explore Snowden's motives and connections, Rogers said, including why he fled to Hong Kong as well as "how is he sustaining himself while he is there, and is the Chinese government fully cooperating."

Comments by Rogers and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D.-Md., came after a three-hour meeting with NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander. The head of U.S. Cyber Command, Alexander reportedly briefed lawmakers on PRISM.

Snowden this week claimed that the NSA has conducted more than 60,000 hacking operations worldwide, including in Hong Kong and China.

Adding intrigue to those assertions is the U.S.'s months-long tit-for-tat with China. The U.S. has expressed incredulity at China's cyberespionage against government and private targets; China rebutted that the U.S. does plenty of its own hacking; and a recent meeting between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping focused extensively on cybersecurity.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

Ahead of Obama Visit, Germany Wants Answers on PRISM

Ich bin ein hacker?

With President Obama slated to arrive in Berlin next week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, a German government spokesperson said that Chancellor Angela Merkel "will surely address" the subject of PRISM and data collection with Obama.

Germany was reportedly the No. 1 target of NSA snooping among EU countries, a fact that has riled Germans. The country's history of data collection -- starting with the "SS" in Nazi times and extending to the Cold War-era Stasi -- has made it particularly sensitive to any sort of data collection.

The German Justice Minister called PRISM "alarming," while Markus Ferber, a member of the European parliament, described the program as "American-style Stasi methods." A left-wing politician went so far as to demand that Germany offer political asylum to Snowden.

[Source: Deutsche Welle]

EU: All New Cars Must Have Crash-Alerting Mobile Device

The European Commission signed draft legislation to enact eCall, a plan requiring all new cars to include by 2015 a mobile device that phones for help after a crash.

The European Parliament and Council of the European Union are expected to approve the legislation.

eCall will be set up so that an on-board device -- which combines GPS and mobile communication -- will automatically contact Europe's "112" emergency number.

The EU forecasts that installation will cost less than US$130 per vehicle; the device is expected to save lives by reducing emergency response time.

Heeding to current events, the EU made sure to point out that the eCall units are "not traceable when there is no emergency" and that they cannot be overtaken by hackers, as they are not permanently connected to a mobile network.

[Source: The Register]

UK ISPs Expand Block List

The UK's ambitious attempts to weed out piracy took another step forward -- or backward, for those who like free stuff -- as several British Internet service providers added new sites to their blacklist.

The new blocks are noteworthy because they include proxies, which provide circuitous access to piracy sites, and not just the actual piracy sites themselves.

The UK's High Court has granted the copyright group BPI authority to add sites to the list. This irks some rights advocates, but that hasn't stopped BPI from reportedly expanding the list to include proxies.

[Source: Torrent Freak ]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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