July 2015

Federal officials want access to encrypted emails and texts on private devices

Setting up a clash between counter-terrorism priorities and constitutional protection against unwarranted intrusion, three top federal law enforcement officials urged Congress and Silicon Valley to provide government agencies special access to encrypted cellphones and other Internet devices.

The pitch Wednesday came amid renewed concern about American vulnerabilities as a cascading series of coincidental computer malfunctions briefly grounded United Airlines aircraft and brought the New York Stock Exchange and other high-profile digital networks to a halt.

Representative demands tighter grip on U.S. illegal ivory trade

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said Tuesday the United States needs to do more to stop the illegal ivory trade.

“Every day, 96 African elephants are killed by poachers for their highly valued ivory,” Lieu said during debate on a budget bill for the Department of the Interior. “With only a few hundred thousand of these elephants remaining, this illegal practice imperils their very existence.”

A section in the proposed appropriations bill would bar the use of funds to restrict the ivory trade in the U.S., which is one of the largest markets for illegal ivory.

Terror group turning to encrypted communications

The Islamic State terror group is increasingly using encrypted communications to recruit troubled Americans and urge them to carry out attacks, FBI Director James Comey is expected to tell Congress on Wednesday.

Comey’s testimony is the latest effort by the Obama administration to pressure Silicon Valley companies to enable law enforcement agencies to continue monitoring communications over devices that are increasingly equipped with high-level encryption.

Gay-rights groups, allies to push back on ‘religious liberty’ arguments

Jobs, housing and education rights, and a complete ban on “conversion” therapy are among the next agenda items for gay-rights groups and their allies.

There will also be a strong push-back against churches and lawmakers who want to use religious liberty as a way to escape the new laws on gay marriage, a church-state watchdog organization promised Tuesday.

Lawmakers want public to see new tanning beds rules

House lawmakers want the public to see a rule the Food and Drug Administration has proposed cracking down on tanning beds.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) signed by 17 House representatives, said new tanning bed regulations submitted by FDA to OMB are critical in the fight to eradicate skin cancer, one of the most commonly occurring cancers in the U.S.

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