OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY: Senate finally passes NSA reform

June 3, 2015

Corey Bennett

--THAT'S THAT: It's finally over. The Senate on Tuesday sent legislation reforming the nation's surveillance laws to President Obama's desk. The 67-32 vote for the USA Freedom Act came more than 36 hours after three parts of the Patriot Act expired, forcing the National Security Agency (NSA) to wind down its bulk collection of U.S. phone data. The bill will essentially end the phone data collection program altogether. "It's an historic moment," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of the authors of the bill, said immediately after the vote. "It's the first major overhaul in government surveillance laws in decades and adds significant privacy protections for the American people." To read our full piece, click here.

--NO BACKDOOR BAN: Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), two of the more vocal NSA critics, weren't able to get a vote on their amendment that would have forbid the government from compelling companies to install access points into their encryption, known as "backdoors." Wyden in January introduced a stand-alone bill, the Secure Data Act, that would achieve the same goal. After it became clear his amendment wasn't getting a vote Tuesday, Wyden told The Hill he would take time to consider the best path forward for the provision. "I'm going to have to talk to my colleagues," he said. "Obviously I feel very strongly about the idea that the FBI director is interested in requiring companies to build weaknesses into their products. It is one of the more far-fetched things I've heard in a long time." To read our full piece, click here.

--THE MORE YOU KNOW: There were a few new details about the Internal Revenue Service's recent data breach scattered across two Senate hearings on Tuesday. The data swiped from 104,000 taxpayers through the IRS's "Get Transcript" application has led to roughly 13,000 fraudulent returns this year, totaling about $39 million, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said during a morning hearing. Koskinen also indicated the hackers behind the digital theft weren't solely based in Russia, as some reports have suggested. Finally, during an afternoon hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) hammered IRS officials over a basic security design flaw that allowed the digital assailants to repeatedly use the same email while trying to access the "Get Transcript" system as multiple different people. "That is a corrective item that needs to be done almost immediately," Johnson told the officials.

Read More at The Hill