After the special prosecutor John Durham filed a document claiming that a technology executive “exploit“Internet traffic data to find offensive information about Donald TrumpThe accusations immediately caused a political right-wing outcry.
“The most striking example that I recall hearing is Jesse Watters on Fox said that Durham had revealed that Hillary Clinton paid people to hack into Donald Trump’s home and office computers to produce evidence of Russian collusion,” said Cato Institute senior member Julian Sanchez featured on the latest episode of Law & Crime’s podcast “Object: with Adam Klasfeld. ”
Describing Watters’ assertion as “impressive” in its falsity, Sanchez added: “Literally no part of that sentence is true.”
“Supposedly a scandal bigger than Watergate”
The Fox News head of talk is hardly alone. According to CNN’s Brian StelterFox called Durham’s name more than 600 times the week the document is submitted. Other media about political rights, such as Judge WashingtonThe Federalist and Breitbart, followed suit.
“This was supposed to be a bigger type of scandal than the Watergate one, and we stopped hearing about it,” noted Sanchez.
Fox’s interest in the scandal quickly dried up after Clinton remarked that the network was “closer to genuine malice,” a comment widely interpreted as an allusion to a defamation lawsuit. can happen. The scandal will likely dissolve after Durham himself distanced himself from public opinion, disclaiming responsibility if “members of the media overstated, overstated, or otherwise misunderstood“What these prosecutors wrote.
Specializing in privacy, technology and civil liberties issues, Sanchez says there’s a real story buried beneath the overheated rhetoric, and as he recently put it in a viral topic on Twitter, it is about a privacy conundrum of the times. batch data analysis.
Durham, a special prosecutor exploited by the former Attorney General Bill Barr to look into the origins of the Russia investigation, prosecuted lawyers with ties to the Democratic Party Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI. Sussmann told authorities about a “secret channel of communication” between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, a now-sanctioned Russian bank.
There was no allegation that this advice was a lie, but Durham alleges that Sussmann misled authorities by claiming that he was transmitting the information as a good citizen, not to as a representative of the Clinton campaign.
“The implication that Durham is drawing here is that there seems to be some kind of shady motive here, or maybe there is some kind of political motive,” notes Sanchez.
Sussmann’s attorneys recently dismissed the indictment as “never happend, “Prosecuting” unjust “and” unlawful “against an” innocent man. ” They say they have found no “case where an individual has provided a tip to the government and is accused of making a false statement for anything other than providing a false tip.”
“Not super well protected”
According to Durham, a technology executive – reported to be a cybersecurity researcher Rodney Joffe—Works for Neustar, which has a contract with the Executive Office of the President and is one of Sussmann’s clients.
In July 2016, Joffe worked with researchers, believed to be from the Georgia Institute of Technology, to analyze DNS records and identify possible security breaches. Those logs don’t include content about internet traffic, but they do light up when one computer is looking for another’s address. Spotting patterns he found unusual, Joffe reportedly passed the findings on to Sussmann, who shared two sets of tips with the FBI and CIA.
“So what should one do with this suspicious traffic to these researchers between servers at Trump Tower — servers that may actually be owned and operated by another organization that is running provides spam marketing mail services to the Trump Organization,” noted Sanchez. “And then the second tip for the CIA regarding […] The apparent presence of rather rare Russian-made cell phones is near, among other places, Trump Tower and executive offices and the White House, as revealed by DNS records. “
Durham has not charged Sussmann with any privacy violations, nor charged Joffe with any wrongdoing. Sanchez noted that Durham had let the statute of limitations expire on such claims, and that it was indisputable that Neustar had legitimate access to the data.
The New York TimesReport what the researchers found month Before submitting the Durham application, note that the data comes from the tenure of By Barack Obama management.
Beneath the alleged geopolitical conspiracy, Sanchez notes that there is a less dramatic story being told about the willingness to provide large datasets of DNS records by private actors who may pass that information on to law enforcement.
“DNS records, as they are, aren’t special – if they’re not encrypted – not super private, not super well protected,” Sanchez said.
While these records can be universally mined, Sanchez asks: “Look, if I asked you, do you think a list of every website you visit in a day from your home, phone your. [to the] internet is public information? Can anyone just go online and look up the sites you’ve visited? I think you’ll probably say ‘No’ and I think, rather, that’s not information in general, usually public. Wouldn’t you be happy if such a list were published? I think for most people the answer is probably, “Yes”.
“Interesting policy issue”
Due to federal restrictions governing the sharing of information with law enforcement, Sanchez noted that it is also appropriate for tech companies to provide that data through an intermediary such as an attorney.” pretty common,” and Capitol Hill is starting to take notice.
“An attempt to try and change this somewhat is Ron Wyden’s The Fourth Amendment is not the Sales Actwould basically say, ‘Look, the government can no longer get by buying different kinds of telecommunications metadata that they would otherwise be required to do and get the adjudication process and also close this kind of foreign intelligence loophole,” Sanchez said.
Once memorably described as the “senator of the Internet”, Senator Wyden (D-Ore.) He is currently the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and he is a privacy buff who has been a prominent critic of mass metadata collection. However, the problem is very difficult and has received support from intelligence agencies.
“The argument I’ve heard from the spies – which I’m not entirely convinced, but I understand the point here – is, ‘Look, if you have a situation where this information is being shared. widely, such as hostile governments can access it, and companies abroad that may be exposed by hostile regimes can access it,” noted Sanchez. “Is there a point at which, does it really make sense to say, you know, of all the entities on Earth, the US government is the only one banned from accessing this kind of information?”
Sanchez, a member of a liberal think tank, ultimately doubts this argument, but believes the challenge should be addressed.
“So that’s why I think there’s an interesting policy issue here and an interesting technology, policy and privacy issue here,” he said. “Obviously the problem isn’t the one we had on Fox, it’s” This is a story of espionage at the behest of Hillary Clinton, unparalleled in the annals of American history since the days of Watergate. ”
Listen to the episode below:
[photo of Sussmann via YouTube screengrab; photo of Durham via U.S. Department of Justice portrait]
Is there a trick we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/objections-podcast/theres-a-thorny-policy-question-underneath-the-pro-trump-medias-furor-over-john-durhams-filing-privacy-expert-says/ Julian Sanchez dissects the privacy issue behind Durham Furor