For US al­lies, par­a­digm shift in in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

PARIS: Fear­ful of an ex­pand­ing ex­trem­ist threat, coun­tries that for years have re­lied heav­ily on US in­tel­li­gence are quickly build­ing up their own ca­pa­bil­i­ties with new tech­nol­ogy, new laws and - in at least one case - a sear­ing de­bate on how much the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment should be al­lowed to spy on their own cit­i­zens.

Re­spond­ing to a ji­hadi move­ment that is suc­cess­fully re­cruit­ing peo­ple from around the world, France and Canada are both pass­ing laws that would dra­mat­i­cally ramp up their sur­veil­lance ap­pa­ra­tus. In France, law­mak­ers are on the verge of ap­prov­ing a bill that would let the gov­ern­ment in­stall “black boxes” to col­lect me­ta­data from ev­ery ma­jor phone and In­ter­net com­pany. Canada’s mea­sures were rushed through af­ter a two sep­a­rate at­tacks in Oc­to­ber 2014 on Cana­dian sol­diers in­clud­ing one that ended when the gunman stormed Par­lia­ment and was shot to death by guards and po­lice. France’s law went into high gear af­ter the Jan­uary terror at­tacks on the satir­i­cal weekly Char­lie Hebdo and a kosher su­per­mar­ket that left 20 dead, in­clud­ing the gun­men. An­a­lysts say it’s not so much a ques­tion of di­min­ish­ing co­op­er­a­tion with the US - the rev­e­la­tions of Ed­ward Snow­den have ul­ti­mately done lit­tle to harm re­la­tion­ships be­tween al­lies - as a push to in­crease do­mes­tic ca­pac­i­ties ill-equipped to face the ris­ing threat of Is­lamic State and other ji­hadi groups. “Th­ese are not peo­ple com­ing from the out­side, th­ese are not peo­ple who are tak­ing plane trips, they are not peo­ple who at­tracted no­tice out­side our coun­tries. Th­ese are peo­ple who come from the heart of our so­ci­ety,” said Alain Chouet, a for­mer French in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial who re­cently re­turned from an ex­tended trip to Canada where he de­bated the mea­sures in both coun­tries. “In­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in this area isn’t hugely use­ful.”

Col­lec­tion of me­ta­data

Tech­no­log­i­cally, France goes the fur­thest with the planned cre­ation of a ‘Made in France’ mass col­lec­tion of me­ta­data that has the po­ten­tial to go be­yond a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency pro­gram. Where the NSA col­lected land­line me­ta­data for nearly ev­ery US cit­i­zen but never really got into scoop­ing up cell data, France is push­ing to es­sen­tially vac­uum up and an­a­lyze ev­ery­thing - land­line, mo­bile and In­ter­net me­ta­data.

The law au­tho­riz­ing that NSA pro­gram is set to ex­pire June 1, but the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives last week passed leg­is­la­tion end­ing the col­lec­tion by the gov­ern­ment and only al­low­ing the NSA to ask tele­phone com­pa­nies for the me­ta­data on a case-by-case ba­sis. That bill may still face changes in the US Se­nate. The Cana­dian pro­pos­als are more mea­sured, but would till dra­mat­i­cally ex­pand do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ca­pa­bil­i­ties, le­gal­ize some col­lec­tion of me­ta­data, and al­low spy ser­vices to take over re­cruiters’ so­cial net­work­ing ac­counts to “counter-mes­sage” as well as delete on­line ma­te­rial from any­where in the world that promotes ter­ror­ism against Cana­di­ans. Un­like the French pro­pos­als, the Cana­dian mea­sures be­gan com­ing un­der strong pub­lic op­po­si­tion as time went on, in­clud­ing an open let­ter from 60 ex­ec­u­tives and a Twit­ter cam­paign that in­cluded a dire warn­ing this month from au­thor Mar­garet At­wood: “See you in the slam­mer, kids.”—AP

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