A disabled civil servant has told MPs how her care

first_imgA disabled civil servant has told MPs how her career has stalled because of the failure of the IT systems in the Home Office to cope with the assistive technology she needs to do her job.Jo-Ann Moran, a senior executive officer in the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, told the work and pensions select committee yesterday (Wednesday) that she had been encouraged to apply for promotion but declined to do so because of the IT problems she was facing.She told the committee that it had been a “culture shock” to “all of a sudden be denied access” after 30 years of full-time employment.Moran (pictured), who has a degenerative condition that affects her hearing and sight, said: “I am a top performer in my grade and I keep getting told, ‘Come on, go for it,’ but I can’t because I am just not going to be reliable.”She added: “We just can’t get the assistive technology to work. It’s not through the [lack of] trying, it’s just about the infrastructure being able to cope with the additional technology.”The evidence session was part of the committee’s inquiry into the role of assistive technology in improving disabled people’s employment rates.Moran said she feared that if she applied for a job working for a minister, that minister would not be able to accommodate her if she had to say, ‘Sorry, my computer’s not working today.’“So that’s where my barrier is at the moment. I have employment, I have over 30 years of full-time employment, but I am now too scared to go for promotion.“I have always done well, I have always been able to overcome, so this has been a real culture shock for me to all of a sudden be denied access.”She said she was working with a team in the Home Office that was trying to build a new IT system that would allow her to use “as many mainstream integrated systems as possible”.If that works, she said, “I will be promoted and I will be in SCS [senior civil service].”Moran was one of four disabled people who gave evidence to the committee about assistive technology.Another was Dr Stephen Duckworth, a consultant who was previously chief executive of the personal independence payment (PIP) division of the troubled outsourcing giant Capita.He told the committee that he had tried to recruit disabled people to Capita but found that he was unable to employ blind people because the technology that the Department for Work and Pensions had imposed on Capita through its PIP contract was inaccessible to them.He said he would like to see a new scheme set up, similar to the existing Motability vehicle scheme, but for those with assistive technology needs.He said this scheme would be open to disabled people who receive the PIP daily living element, who would then be able to use their monthly payments to fund expensive assistive technology.Duckworth said this would give “autonomy, power and control back to individuals so they can choose and control how they use that money to invest in their future”.He said this would “help them take responsibility, not just for independent living, but also for their future employment and contribution that they make back to society”, while it could prevent disabled people being charged one thousand per cent interest rates on loans from payday lenders to fund the purchase of assistive technology equipment.Robin Christopherson, head of digital inclusion at the technology and disability charity AbilityNet, told the committee the government should do more to enforce existing obligations to ensure digital accessibility under the Equality Act.He said: “We would want to see government embracing that very, very strongly, to be able to get a seismic change in the landscape.“Historically, the government have not seen it as their remit to enforce that area of the Equality Act, so it is left to disabled individuals or organisations like RNIB to do class actions.”He said the legal requirement under the Equality Act is for websites of service-providers to achieve the “double A” level of accessibility, but 95 per cent of sites in the UK do not even meet the lower “single A” level, 20 years after protection was first introduced through the Disability Discrimination Act.He also told the MPs that the government’s Access to Work scheme was only “scratching the surface” of what was needed in funding disabled people’s workplace adjustments.And he said that AbilityNet and ClearTalents will be trialling the use of the ClearTalents diversity profile – which provides “tailored reasonable adjustments” for disabled people, as well as those who face recruitment barriers for other reasons, such as cultural factors, transgender status or caring responsibilities – in a number of jobcentres in London.He said it was “really, really important” for employers to be “much more proactive” in the provision of reasonable adjustments.And he said that organisations that use the ClearTalents system increase the “disclosure rate” of such barriers from about two to three per cent to between 60 and 65 per cent.Consultant Simon Wheatcroft told the committee that there needed to be “far more integration” of IT systems and assistive technology, because there are “so many systems, there are so many assistive technology solutions”.He has to use three separate devices, because none of the systems he uses will work in every situation.He said: “It’s very task dependant. No one system exists that can help me in every situation.“I have to spin my work out across three different devices and three different operating systems just to perhaps achieve the same task that someone with sight might use.“If there was a more integrated approach I could use one system, maybe one device, and be far more productive.”last_img read more

PostFlorence larcenies double at UNCW dorms

first_imgUNCW campus police (Photo: uncw.edu) WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) — In the first weeks after Hurricane Florence, police at the University of North Carolina Wilmington got 36 reports of items stolen from residence halls. Two months after the storm, Police Chief David Donaldson estimates that number is now between 65 and 70.And while many of those cases are inactive, Donaldson said none have been resolved.- Advertisement – “No, there are none that have been fruitful,” he said this week. “It’s unlikely that many of these cases will end with an arrest.”Police were stationed at campus entrances 24 hours a day during the 25 days UNCW was closed to the public. But campus buildings had to be unlocked for days to allow contractors to begin repairs.Read more from StarNewsOnline.last_img read more

Several injured in highspeed crash in Burgaw

first_img Capt. James Rowell with the Pender County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy passed a speeding car heading north on U.S. 117, but before the deputy could turn around and catch up to the driver, the driver hit a vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 117 and NC 53.The driver didn’t stop, then hit another vehicle a couple hundred feet down the road near the entrance to Hardees, Rowell said.At that point, the driver’s car went airborne, rolled, then caught on fire. The driver was injured and taken to the hospital.Related Article: Investigators: Dispute over woman leads to shooting at Rocky Point storeThe driver’s identity has not been released, but Rowell said he has outstanding warrants out of New Hanover County.Rowell said people from the other two cars were also injured, but no word on the extent of their injuries or how many passengers were in each car.A block of U.S. 117 was closed for about two hours. BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — A man allegedly driving 100 miles per hour crashed into two cars in Burgaw on Tuesday afternoon.It happened just before 3:00 p.m.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Governor visits Wilmington childrens center to push for Medicaid expansion

first_img “You work so hard but you still struggle,” said teacher Lauren Beasley.Nineteen percent of early childhood educators in North Carolina do not have health insurance according to the Governor’s office. Several teachers who sat with the Governor rely on health insurance to come from either the jobs of their spouse or another family member.“My passion is with the younger ones and it’s just really disappointing that I have to go back to school to do something else because of something like health insurance,” said teacher Camden Rivenbark who is losing insurance this month.Related Article: Republicans face more powerful Cooper with Democrats’ gainsThe issue of Medicaid has risen in the legislature in bills like HB 656, but not significantly in the House and Senate budgets. Today leading lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown issued a letter the Governor. In it he informed the Governor that staff from the Governor’s office said talks would not move forward on the budget if Medicaid is left out.“It should be a part of this negotiation and I hope that it will be in the coming weeks or months,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s time for North Carolina to expand Medicaid and help our early childhood educators and other hardworking North Carolinians get access to quality health insurance.”Republicans have said the expansion would hurt hospitals and private insurance users in the state.Gov. Cooper has been traveling the state hearing from North Carolinians about the urgency to expand Medicaid according to his staff. In addition, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen have hosted six roundtables on the health coverage gap. Rural hospital CEOs, childcare directors and teachers, mental health providers, obstetricians and pediatricians, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic have all traveled to Raleigh from across North Carolina to urge lawmakers to close the health coverage gap.The Governor’s office says expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs according to his staff.Currently, a family of four with working parents must earn less than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid according to the Governor’s office. The same family’s income would have to exceed $25,000 to qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance. Gov. Cooper holds roundtable at Noah’s Ark Children’s Center. (Andrew James/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Expanding Medicaid in this year’s state budget is a top priority for Governor Roy Cooper. His statewide trip to push for it brought him to Wilmington today.Governor Roy Cooper met with childcare teachers at Noah’s Ark Children’s Center in Wilmington. In a roundtable discussion, teachers shared that too many of their colleagues are suffering from preventable diseases because they do not have access to health insurance.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Oak Island residents fight to keep dog park open

first_img Since then, more than 70 comments have been posted by people asking what they can do to help save the park.Kristin Ilchert says she brings her dog to the park often, and is doing what she can to stop it from shutting down.“We were told that there were holes and leaves and stuff, and nobody was here to help, but nobody has asked for any help,” Ilchert said. “90 percent of us or more didn’t even know it was volunteer-run.”A sign tells supporters of the dog park to attend a meeting on June 20th.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)Related Article: Oak Island Pier set to reopen WednesdayIlchert says there’s been some confusion about when the public can voice their support for the park. She says she plans on attending a Parks and Recreation meeting on Thursday.The official dog park Facebook page says to voice concerns at a town council meeting on July 18. A dog enjoys Salty Dog Park in Oak Island.(Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY) OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — Dog lovers in Oak Island are trying to save the town’s only dog park after hearing that it would be closing.According to Salty Dog Park’s Facebook page, the park is maintained by volunteers and the funds they raise. On June 10, they posted that the park would be closing on August 1 due to a lack of volunteers.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Panama papers being considered not evidence – PACE Inquiry found Egrant papers

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> http://www.assembly.coe.int/nw/SessionVideoPress-EN.aspPieter Omtzigt, rapporteur appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), is heading the second hearing on the report titled “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law, in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges”.He was appointed to prepare the report after a motion was passed, signed by 114 members of the Assembly. Present are Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici, Attorney General Peter Grech and Martin Kuijer, substitute member for the Netherlands, European Commission for Democracy through Law, Council of Europe.09:25 Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici listed the improvements which he said government has made in the past years to improve the rule of law. He mentioned the removal of criminal libel and anti-SLAPP laws. He said that Malta joined the EPPO as well as other initiatives.09:30 Referring to the murder of journalist Caruana Galizia, whom the Minister described as ‘brutal’, Bonnici said that the relevant authorities not only had been given the required tools but, in a few days had arraigned three persons and had worked with Finnish and Dutch Authority. Regarding the Venice Commission, Bonnici said that the recommendations on the Attorney General and on the Judiciary are being considered as these require constitutional amendments. He said that that the changes are aimed for the end of the current year.09:40 Attorney Peter Grech outlined his work as the government’s lawyer and his position in magisterial inquiries. Grech said that although three persons have been arraigned, the possibility of further arraignments is not excluded. he referred to the wish of the family as he had been officially notified, that the family will press for a public inquiry. He said that the necessity of this is debatable but cannot be excluded. He said that what is necessary at this point is to assess if a public inquiry will help or hinder the ongoing investigations.09:50 Martin Kuijer member for the Netherlands, European Commission for Democracy through Law, Council of Europe said that the report found that power in Malta is vested in the Prime Minister, that MPs are part-time and that they should have information which is non-partisan. He said that the President should be distanced from the government and that the judiciary should be reformed and overhauled. Appointment by merit and upgraded judicial discipline should be introduced, said Kuijer. He said that the report recommended the setting up of a public prosecutor with security of tenure and the Attorney General will remain as the lawyer of the government.09:55 Pieter Omtzigt asked Dr Grech if it requested help from UAE and other jurisdictions in the Daphne Investigation. Dr Grech said that it would not be appropriate for him to answer that question in the light of the investigations.10:05 Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi listed a number of issues which he said tainted government with corruption in relation to impunity enjoyed by persons impugned by the Panama Papers such as Minister Konrad Mizzi and accountant Brian Tonna. Azzopardi asked how the minister could be considered credible when he had called Daphne Caruana Galizia a hate blogger. Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi asked if the government was working to introduce the reforms requested by the Venice Commission. Finally Pieter Omtzigt asked why it took Malta 3 months to clean the Great Siege Monument which he described as an important public memorial to a murdered journalist. He remarked that the cleaning of the Arc de Triomphe took only 11 days.10:10 Minister Bonnici, replying to Jason Azzopardi said that while he disagreed with Daphne’s style of writing but he still condemned the murder. He defended Brian Tonna as he had been consultant for culture. He added that magisterial inquiries are being conducted on the Panama Papers and the courts have so far, decided for government and the Prime Minister. In reply to a question on Daphne Garuana Galizia’s laptop, Bonnici said that he had no idea how this could end up in Germany. Minister Bonnici concluded that Malta is not about restoration of monuments taking long. ‘Malta is so much more than this’ concluded Bonnici.10:15 Pieter Omtzigt said that the Commission against Corruption has existed for the past 30 years and the very serious issues of the Panama Papers are being sidelined as ‘not evidence’. Minister Bonnici took exception to these concluding demands and replied that the Panama Papers had been under magisterial inquiry which found that papers in the Egrant investigation had been falsified.WhatsApplast_img read more

Protester tosses egg at Australian prime minister

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the INPEX Gala Dinner in Darwin, Australia November 16, 2018. David Moir/Pool via REUTERS/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the INPEX Gala Dinner in Darwin, Australia November 16, 2018. David Moir/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo A 25-year-old woman threw an egg at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s head at an election campaign event on Tuesday and was arrested, New South Wales state police said.Security guards swiftly pounced on the protester, who was wearing a beanie and casual clothes, and dragged her away.“Officers from the Murray River police district placed the woman under arrest after she allegedly threw an egg at the prime minister during a Country Women’s Association event at Albury Entertainment Centre,” the police statement said.“The egg appears to have struck the prime minister on the head,” police said.They did not disclose the protester’s name.Morrison rubbed his head briefly after the egg was tossed and then helped an elderly woman who was pushed to the floor in the scuffle, television images showed.No injuries were reported, the police said.“We will stand up to thuggery whether it’s these cowardly activists who have no respect for anyone, or militant unionists standing over small businesses and their employees on work sites,” Morrison said in a message on his Twitter feed.We will stand up to thuggery whether it’s these cowardly activists who have no respect for anyone, or militant unionists standing over small businesses and their employees on work sites.— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) May 7, 2019The incident occurred during a visit by the prime minister to Albury, a constituency in New South Wales, where an independent candidate is the bookmakers’ favourite as rural voters desert the government.The woman protester later told reporters that her action “speaks for itself” and referred to Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, where Australia has long detained refugees, according to a reporter with the Australian newspaper.In March, a teenager smashed an egg onto the head of a controversial right-wing Australian lawmaker who had blamed New Zealand’s mass mosque shootings on its immigration programme.WhatsApplast_img read more

Court cites conflict of interest and revokes DB Group permit

first_imgThe controversial db Group City Centre Project in Pembroke has been brought to a halt after the Court of Appeal found that one of the sitting board members of the Planning Authority board had a conflict of interest in the project on Wednesday morning.Developer Silvio Debono will now need to submit a fresh planning application, after Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti ruled that the decision by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) given in February this year, should be revoked and said that the decision which was taken by the Planning Authority Board on 20 September 2018 was “deemed as null and without effect”.READ: NGOs file judicial protest against Lands Authority over db Group developmentREAD: Lawsuits filed over db Group planning tribunal and permitThe Local Councils of Pembroke, St Julian’s, and Swieqi, along with non-governmental organisations Moviment Graffitti, Friends of the Earth Malta, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, Din l-Art Ħelwa, and Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, as well as residents Alison Pullicino, Sonya Tanti, Rita Zammit, Norman Zammit, Mario Sultana, Adrian Grima, Josef Buttigieg, Stephanie and Arnold Cassola took the matter to court and appealed the decision by EPRT.Back in September 2018, the Planning Authority Board had approved the project which includes a 37-storey tower and a 17-storey hotel, with 10 votes to 4.Miguela XuerebNewsbook.com.mt had revealed that Board Member Jacqueline Gili was flown in by a jet to vote in favour of the project.READ: Jetset votingThe Shift News then revealed that board member Matthew Pace is a franchise owner of Remax Alliance Group. Pace was appointed on to the Planning Board only weeks after the general election of 2013. The Shift News had reported Remax was directly involved in selling apartments for Debono’s project in 2016. Back in 2016, there was no planning permit for the project and the land had not been transferred to Debono.In its reasoning the court observed that the project was being advertised long before the application had been voted on. The franchise which Pace owns, has a shared website and database with Remax Malta, and the court observed that any property agent who secured a deal would receive a commission even if they had not been directly involved.The court further said, that irrelevant of how the commission is shared between the different franchises, what was relevant, the court added was that Pace was in a position through his estate agency for which had not yet been approved and which he had a say in approving, through his vote as a member of the Planning Authority Board. “This shows without any doubt that Matthew Pace had a clear and direct interest in the outcome of the vote on the project, from which he could potentially have benefited once the project is approved,” the court said. The court further said that Pace “ought to have declared such interest prior to discussing the development application, and that he ought to have abstained from the sitting on the Board when the decision on City Centre Project was to be taken.The case was filed by lawyer Claire Bonello who said that this was a rare occasion indeed when conflict of interest was recognised by court, and was substantial enough to warrant the revocation of a permit.The project now needs to be brought back to the table for a vote. Observers close to the planning scene told Newsbook.com.mt that the ruling did not affect the plans but was taken on the issue of ‘conflict of interest’. This means that the project, per se, can just be tabled again for decision in a few days time.db Group denies excavations on bunker’s site; says Graffitti statements ‘absolutely untrue’1930s engine room omitted from DB Group assessment report Read also: Db Group submits new plans for former ITS siteUpdated: db Group changing its plans for ITS site, a ‘significant win’ – Graffitti‘We have nothing to hide’ – db Group claimsCrowdfunded appeal against dbGroup project filedPressure piles on db Group as ‘state aid’ accusations gather momentumPD file complaint with EC on db Group land acquisitiondb Group had admitted paying a low price for the land in Pembroke WhatsApp Pembroke Mayor Dean Hili on a Facebook residents’ group announced that access will be opened once again as the Local Council wrote to the architects requesting that the hoarding on the sidewalk blocking access is removed following the decision on Wednesday morning. In comments given to Newsbook.com.mt, Hili said that “the application will once again have to go through the planning procedure and we will be there once again, as we have been throughout the first instance.”Hili further added that “it is now clear more than ever that this entire procedure needs to be handled with the highest levels of diligence, sensitivity and objectivity, free from any sort of conflict of interest”. The mayor of Pembroke further remarked that while he does “not interpret this judgement to be a decision to this effect, the Planning Authority has another chance to get it right” saying that the project can be downsized.Moviment Graffiti has announced the legal victory over the development over their Facebook page.Environmental NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar said “It’s a good week for Malta’s environment! Together we can achieve more,” as it reacted to the news. While Din l-Art Ħelwa said that “Perseverance pays,” on its Facebook page.center_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Yes the FBI and CIA – or your government – can read

first_imgAdvertisement The U.S. government — and likely your own government, for that matter — is either watching your online activity every minute of the day through automated methods and non-human eavesdropping techniques, or has the ability to dip in as and when it deems necessary — sometimes with a warrant, sometimes without.That tin-foil hat really isn’t going to help. Take it off, you look silly.Gen. David Petraeus, the former head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, resigned over the weekend after he was found to have engaged in an extra-marital affair. What caught Petraeus out was, of all things, his usage of Google’s online email service, Gmail. – Advertisement – This has not only landed the former CIA chief in hot water but has ignited the debate over how, when, and why governments and law enforcement agencies are able to access ordinary citizens’ email accounts, even if they are the head of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world.If it makes you feel any better, the chances are small thatyour own or a foreign government will snoop on you. The odds are much greater — at least for the ordinary person (terrorists, hijackers et al: take note) — that your email account will be broken into by a stranger exploiting your weak password, or an ex-lover with a grudge (see “Fatal Attraction“).Forget ECHELON, or signals intelligence, or the interception of communications by black boxes installed covertly in data centers. Intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies can access — thanks to the shift towards Web-based email services in the cloud — but it’s not as exciting or as Jack Bauer-esque as one may think or hope for.The easiest way to access almost anybody’s email nowadays is still through the courts. (Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true.)The ‘save as draft’ trickPetraeus set up a private account under a pseudonym and composed email messages but never sent them. Instead, they were saved in draft. His lover, Paula Broadwell, would log in under the same account, read the email and reply, all without sending anything. The traffic would not be sent across the networks through Google’s data centers, making it nigh on impossible for the National Security Agency or any other electronic signals eavesdropping agency (such as Britain’s elusive GCHQ) to ‘read’ the traffic while it is in transit.And yes, terrorists and pedophiles have been known to use this ‘trick’, but also sophisticated criminals also use this technique. It eliminates a network trail to a greater or lesser extent, and makes it more difficult to trace.But surely IP addresses are logged and noted? When emails are sent and received, yes. But the emails were saved in draft and therefore were not sent. However, Google may still have a record of the IP addresses of those who logged into the account.However, most Internet or broadband providers offer dynamic IP addresses that change over time, and an IP address does not always point to the same computer, let alone the same region or state every time it is assigned to a user. Even then, recent U.S. court cases have found that IP addresses do not specifically point to a computer, meaning even if the authorities were sure that it was Petraeus, for instance — though IP addresses very rarely give the exact house number and street address — it would not stick in court.As is often the case, human error can land someone in the legal spotlight. 37-year-old Florida resident Jill Kelley, a family friend to the Petraeus’, allegedly received emails from an anonymous account warning Kelley to stay away from the CIA chief.But when Broadwell sent these messages, it left behind little fragments of data attached to the email — every email you send has this data attached — which first led the FBI on a path that led up to the very door of Petraeus’ office door in Langley, Virginia.Get a warrant, serve it to Google?There’s no such thing as a truly ‘anonymous’ email account, and no matter how much you try to encrypt the contents of the email you are sending, little fragments of data are attached by email servers and messaging companies. It’s how email works and it’s entirely unavoidable.Every email sent and received comes with ‘communications data,’ otherwise known as “metadata” — little fragments of information that carries the recipient and the sender’s address, and routing data such as the IP addresses of the sender and the servers or data center that it’s passed through. Extracting this metadata is not a mystery or difficult, in fact anyone can do it, but if you have the legal tools and law enforcement power to determine where the email was passed through — such as an IP address of one of Google’s data center in the United States.The system is remarkably similar to the postal system. You can seal the envelope and hide what’s inside, but it contains a postmark of where it came from and where it’s going. It may even have your fingerprints on it. All of this information outside the contents is “metadata.”That said, even if you use a disposable Gmail account — such as iamananonymousemailsender@gmail.com, for instance — it’s clearly a Gmail account, and Gmail is operated by Google. Sometimes it just takes a smidgen of common knowledge.Ultimately, only Google had access to the emails. Because it’s a private company, it does not fall under the scope of the Fourth Amendment. If the U.S. government or one of its law enforcement agencies wanted to access the private Petraeus email account, it would have to serve up a warrant.In this case, however, the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) would not apply. Even the Patriot Act would not necessarily apply in this case, even though it does allow the FBI and other authorized agencies to search email. However, in this case, above all else, the Stored Communications Act does apply — part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.The act allows for any electronic data to be read if it has been stored for less than 180 days. In this case, the law was specifically designed — albeit quite some time before email became a mainstream communications medium — to allow server- or computer-stored data to be accessed by law enforcement.However, a court order must be issued before the 180 day limit, and in this case it was. Reporting from London, the BBC News’ Mark Ward summed it up in a single sentence:Once it knew Ms. Broadwell was the sender of the threatening messages, the FBI got a warrant that gave it covert access to the anonymous email account.And that’s how they do it. No matter which way you look at it, no matter how much the government or its law enforcement agencies want the data or the proof of wrongdoing, they must almost always get a court order.And Petraeus is no different from any other U.S. citizen, U.K. citizen, or European citizen — and further afield for that matter. What it always boils down to is a court order, and it’s as simple as that. It’s not ECHELON or an episode of “24” using hacking or cracking techniques; it’s an afternoon in a fusty courtroom with a semi-switched on (and preferably sober) judge.That said, it doesn’t grant unfettered or unrestricted access to a user’s inbox or email account, but when an alleged crime has been committed or law enforcement starts digging around, it allows a fairly wide berth of powers to request access to electronically stored data.Former assistant secretary to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Stewart Baker told the Associated Press:The government can’t just wander through your emails just because they’d like to know what you’re thinking or doing. But if the government is investigating a crime, it has a lot of authority to review people’s emails.So there it is. A court order is all you need to access a person’s inbox, but sufficient evidence is often required in order to do this — particularly through the Stored Communications Act, or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.It sounds obvious, of course, that’s because it is.That said, if there is reasonable suspicion albeit lacking evidence, or a U.S. law enforcement agency is dealing with a foreign national outside of the United States, that normally requires a secret FISA court order to be granted in order to proceed with the interception of data or warranted access to an email account, for example.Outside the U.S.: Is it still ‘just’ a court order?A simple court order is all it takes and it can apply to anyone in public office or the man on the street holding a sign warning that “the end is nigh.”But it’s OK; you’re in Europe, or Australia, or Asia. The U.S. can’t use their laws against you in a foreign country because, well, you’re outside of its jurisdiction. Again, sorry to burst your privacy bubble but that excuse didn’t wash with the European Parliament, it shouldn’t with you either.If you’re a European citizen with a Microsoft, Google, Yahoo or Apple account — or any email offered in the cloud by a U.S. company — which is most consumer email services nowadays — it is accessible to the U.S. courts and other nations through various acts of law, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the PATRIOT Act, in which the latter amended much of what the former had implemented in the first place.(“Oh great, he’s talking about the Patriot Act again,” says everybody.)It’s worth noting a common few misconceptions. Since first reporting this some years ago (and subsequently sparking a trans-Atlantic diplomatic row, whoops) analysts and experts alike, some who are under the thumb of the cloud companies themselves, claim that the Patriot Act — to use the umbrella, common term — does not allow the U.S. government or its law enforcement agencies the powers that others (*cough* including me) claim.Let’s just run through a few examples of false claims on top of false claims:MythFactThe Patriot Act is the magic wand that allows the U.S. government unrestricted access to any data, anywhere, anytime.Untrue.The Patriot Act gives the U.S. government unprecedented access to data hosted by U.S. companies anywhere in the world.Untrue.All countries have similar legislation that gives the authorities a means to requisition data on cloud services, to investigate and prevent acts of terrorism.Unt… actually, quite true.It doesn’t give “unrestricted” or “unprecedented” access to date outside the U.S., because for the most part these warrants must go through a special FISA court. The trouble is even though there is some level of accountability via the FISA courts, these sessions are held in secret and there are no public minutes or record to go from, so swings and roundabouts.Only in exceptional cases where warrants are not issued is when there is an immediate threat to life. But because these courts are secret, there’s no definitive and ultimate way to know for an absolute fact that the U.S. authorities don’t just bypass the FISA courts and skip ahead with their investigations anyway. (You only really have my word — and my sources in the U.S. government, such as legal counsels and spokespeople, to go on.)On the third point, other countries do have similar laws and this should be noted. (I personally thought it was relatively common knowledge, forgive my naivety.) The U.K., for instance, has the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act that can be used to acquire data from a third-country via a U.K.-based firm, just as the Patriot Act can be used on a U.S. firm to access data in a third-country via a local subsidiary.But in terms of where the major email and cloud providers are based — the United States, notably on the West Coast — it means that U.S. law must apply, in spite of foreign laws that attempt to or successfully counteract the provisions offered in U.S. law. Not many major cloud providers operate solely in the U.K., whereas Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon are all U.S. headquartered with a subsidiary in the U.K. and other countries.The lesson here? We’re all as bad as each other and no legally or financially reasonable place is safe to store data if you’re a massive criminal or looking to stash a bunch of secret or uncouth documents away from the authorities.As for Petraeus, he may have been careful but in spite of his counter-terrorism knowledge and clever tricks in going under the radar, ultimately there was a weak link in the security chain — and no matter how far you go to try and cover your tracks, often it always falls down to two things: human error, or sex.Credit: ZDnet.comlast_img read more

Facebooks New Chat Room

first_imgAdvertisement Facebook has built a new feature codenamed “Host Chat” that lets people set up chat rooms their friends can join without an invitation. This could get Facebook users to meet friends of friends and spend more time on the site.The leak comes as Facebook is fighting a war for messaging. It’s own cross-platform chat competes with SMS, Apple’s iMessage, and now Google’s new unified messaging system Hangouts. Meanwhile, it’s battling independent international players like WhatsApp, sticker-focused products like Japan’s Line, and novel communication forms like Snapchat.The Facebook chat rooms feature creates an option to “Host Chat” in the Facebook home page’s status update composer. Currently users see buttons for “Update Status”, and “Add Photos/Video”. The “Host Chat” button would be a third option there. – Advertisement – [related-posts]When clicked it opens a chat room that the host can name if there’s a specific purpose for the room, such as discussing a certain topic, planning an event, or working on a project. The host can add specific friends to the room, similar to Facebook’s existing ad-hoc private group chat feature. Those participating see the room as a window similar to traditional one-on-one Facebook chat, though it might be a bit bigger to accommodate a higher pace of conversation.What makes Host Chat special is that any of the host’s friends can join without being invited. They see a story in their news feed that a friend is hosting a chat room and they’re given the option to jump in. This works similar to the chat feature within Facebook Groups, where anyone in the Group can join a discussion. The use of the news feed to spread and grow rooms takes advantage of Facebook’s ubiquity and the relatively large number of a person’s friends likely to be browsing the feed at any given time.Hosts can set privacy restrictions to limit who is allowed to join their room, and can expel people they don’t want present. There may be an option to allow friends of friends to join so a room could grow virally, but this isn’t confirmed. Figuring out the best way to handle privacy when people who aren’t friends interact in a chat room may be one of Facebook’s goals for the test.A mid-sized group of Facebook employees including some of the existing chat team have been working on the feature. Early internal tests of Host Chat only supported text — no photo or video. Images would likely be included but no word on whether chat rooms will allow Facebook’s cutesy new messaging stickers. Tests were also limited to the web, though Facebook’s insistence that it’s a mobile company means it might be cranking on small-screen support, which could launch eventually if the feature is well received. It’s possible that you might be able to participate in a chat room but not start one from mobile in the initial tests happening now.You might not see this on your Facebook page as usually, only a small percentage (and in selected countries) of all the users is chosen to participate in such trials.Credit: Techcrunchlast_img read more