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Anti-Terror prosecutors from Four Nations Call for Access to Encrypted Data to counter Terrorism

Anti-terror prosecutors from four nations say they need greater access to encrypted data on smartphones and computers in the fight against terrorism

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Access to Encrypted Data
Flowers and American flags honoring the 14 victims of the Dec. 2, 2015, terror attack in San Bernardino, California, Dec. 29, 2015. Apple refused to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the assailants. VOA
  • The prosecutors from France, Belgium, Spain and Morocco made their joint appeal in Paris after a two-day meeting
  • France and Belgium have both been hit by major terror attacks in recent months, prosecutors from the four countries have been working closely to prevent future incidents
  • The issue of accessing encrypted data is controversial, raising concerns about privacy and abuse

Anti-terror prosecutors from four nations say they need greater access to encrypted data on smartphones and computers in the fight against terrorism.

The prosecutors from France, Belgium, Spain and Morocco made their joint appeal in Paris after a two-day meeting. They’re seeking new tools to respond to a new age of terror and unlock encrypted messages used by groups like Islamic State.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

They issued a joint statement Friday to alert national and international authorities, internet providers, software makers and telecommunication operators about the obstacles posed by data encryption and the locking smartphones and computers, according to the Associated Press.

French prosecutor Francois Molins said protecting personal data is an essential right, but terrorism threats justified specialized judicial access to suspects’ data. Not having that, he said, has sometimes paralyzed investigations.

France and Belgium have both been hit by major terror attacks in recent months. Prosecutors from the four countries have been working closely to prevent future incidents.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

The issue of accessing encrypted data is controversial, raising concerns about privacy and abuse. In the U.S., for example, Apple refused to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonging to a California assailant.

Joe McNamee, executive director of NGO European Digital Rights in Brussels, was critical of the prosecutors’ demands.

“A bad idea, badly explained,” he said. “We’re presented with a notion — in an environment when there is more data about more individuals than at any time in our history — that certain pieces of data are absolutely crucial …and on a very practical level that’s just not true. On a deeper level, the issue of encryption is about everyone’s security.”

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French and German authorities have issued similar calls for encrypted data to social media platforms popular with Jihadi groups. (VOA)

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)