The U.S. Senate has taken one step closer to a final vote on changing the government’s controversial program to freely tap and monitor citizens’ phones.
Senators voted 83-14 to end debate on the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring” (USA Freedom) Act. The bill will extend lapsed provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act and aims to add transparency to the NSA’s activities surrounding wiretapping and data collection.
A final vote could happen as early as this afternoon.
Apparently, junior minister for digital economy Fluer Pellerin thinks that Apple shouldn’t have rejected AppGratis from the App Store last week. Her remarks to the French media make it clear that she feels the tech company isn’t behaving ethically in its dealings with AppGratis, a French startup, or others like it, calling the move “an issue of fairness,” and “extremely brutal.”
Not only that, but Pellerin feels that European regulators might want to think about taking action against Apple for the rejection.
As of January 26th, it is now illegal for you to unlock your smartphone if you want to use it on another network. Carrier unlocking has been legal in the U.S. for years, but in October the Library of Congress ruled that unauthorized unlocking is a crime.
The Obama Administration has already voiced its opinion that citizens should be allowed to unlock their smartphones without risking criminal penalties, and a senator from Oregon just introduced a bill that would making unlocking legal again.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the U.S. government open access to electronic information stored by non-US citizens on US-based servers, like a host of cloud services available today. iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other popular services are all subject to this law, passed in 2008 by the Bush administration and recently re-authorized by the Obama administration for another 5 years.
What this means is that any data stored by non-American citizens on cloud servers here in the US is able to be looked at in entirety by various agencies in the US federal government, including the NSA, FBI, and CIA.