National Security Agency officials care deeply about protecting privacy, according to Rebecca Richards, the agency’s first chief privacy and civil-liberties officer.
In her first public discussion since taking office five weeks ago, (NSA)Richards said Thursday that internal NSA literature emphasized privacy protection even before Edward Snowden’s leaks shined a spotlight on the agency’s controversial surveillance practices.
“These people have it in their veins that they’re protecting privacy, that they’re protecting U.S. persons,” she said at a conference in Washington for privacy professionals.
But she said a culture of secrecy has hampered the NSA’s ability to defend itself and communicate its views to the public.
“I think a lot of my job will be translating from NSA-speak to public-speak,” she said. “There’s a need to actually be able to talk about things.”
Richards said she will try to ensure that the NSA builds privacy and civil-liberties protections into the design of its surveillance programs. If the NSA has two options for collecting data that both achieve similar national security, she said she will push the agency to choose the option that better protects privacy.
She revealed that she is working on a report that will outline what privacy protections exist under the various legal authorities the NSA uses to spy on people around the world.
Richards, who previously served as the Homeland Security Department’s top privacy officer, said she still has a lot to learn about the NSA.
“It’s been like drinking from a firehose,” she said of her first few weeks on the job.
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The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."
An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."
The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in waiting, not only thinks his party will take the Senate this fall, but that it's on the cusp of an era of "electoral dominance." He told Politico: “We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way. We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”
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