The measure was inserted into a defense appropriations bill and approved on a voice vote
An amendment designed to bar the National Security Agency from undermining encryption standards was approved by the House last night.
The move follows reporting last year by ProPublica, the Guardian, and the New York Times on the NSA's efforts to weaken encryption, including by influencing the development of standards by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The stories were based on documents provided by Edward Snowden.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and similar to one he advanced last month, bars the NSA from using appropriation funds to consult with NIST in a way that undermines security standards.
It still has a way to go before becoming law: While the House is expected today to approve the full appropriations bill that the amendment is a part of, the Senate would have to pass the same text, and ultimately President Obama would have to approve.
The amendment is separate from another one the House adopted last night that is designed to block the NSA from conducting "backdoor" spying on Americans by querying databases of foreign intelligence.
The voice vote on Grayson's amendment, co-sponsored by Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), was preceded by a few minutes of interesting debate among Grayson, Holt, and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee.
Noting that he did not oppose the amendment, Frelinghuysen nevertheless rejected what he called the "allegations" that NSA had meddled with encryption standards.
"The idea that NSA has deliberately sabotaged security is ridiculous," Frelinghuysen said. "These folks know the threat we face and are helping to secure the Internet we all rely on so heavily."
Grayson and Holt cited our reporting on the NSA's efforts to undermine encryption standards.
A Grayson spokesperson cautioned it's always possible that the NSA has a classified funding stream that could allow it to continue to meddle with encryption standards.
Here is video of the debate on the amendment:
And here's the full amendment itself:
SEC. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to “consult”, as the term is used in reference to the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency, in contravention of the “assur[ance]” provided in section 20(c)(1)(A) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278g-3(c)(1)(A)).
Rail minister Gowda has assured BJP and Shiv Sena MPs from Mumbai and Thane of a 'positive' decision on their demand to roll back the fare hike in suburban rail fares and an announcement to this effect could be made in a few days
The Narendra Modi government has come under pressure from its own members of Parliament (MPs) to reduce the hike in the suburban rail fare in Mumbai. On Tuesday, all MPs from Mumbai and Thane from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena met railway minister Sadananda Gowda seeking a roll back.
BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said Gowda assured them of a "positive" decision on their demand, and added that an announcement to this effect could be made in a few days.
The recent hike in rail fares has led to a steep increase in the prices of monthly passes for Mumbai local trains. Mumbai's train network sees the heaviest rush among all suburban rail networks and is a lifeline of Maharashtra's capital and India's commercial hub.
The MPs said that people in their area were deeply upset about the rise in monthly fares and the railway minister 'agreed' with them that the hike of over 150% in some cases was not good.
"The minister said Railway Board officials will meet soon and a relief will be announced," Kapil Patil, MP from Bhivandi said.
The state is going to polls later this year and leaders of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance do not want the hike to spoil their chances of winning the polls.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has publicly flayed the decision and demanded a rollback.
Somiaya said Gowda has also assured them that more facilities will be provided to suburban travellers and security will be enhanced.
India’s legal system has become a source of anxiety, persecution and uncertainty. Legal avenues need to be insulated from being used as tools of intimidation and unnecessary delays
Those who have watched Subrata Roy, founder of the mysterious Sahara Pariwar, flaunt his powerful connections in business, politics, sports, films and government, find it hard to believe that he has spent the past three and half months in jail.
But for those who follow business news and court reports, the two-year trial in the Supreme Court of India had been stunningly bizarre. Each hearing was preceded with full-page advertisements carrying the most absurd claims and charges against the market regulator. This happened even though the group was represented by some of the most reputed and expensive legal brains in the country.
Many of us wondered why the Supreme Court allowed this drama to be played out at every hearing until Sahara’s attitude seemed to challenge the very credibility of our legal system. The 6 May 2014 order of Justice Jagdish Singh Kehar and Justice KS Radhakrishnan reassuringly tells us how the Sahara Pariwar’s attitude had angered the Court. Strangely, this part of the judgement has escaped media attention.
Justice Kehar, in his order, writes about how the Sahara hearings took up a lot of the Court’s time starting from 2012, when the case was intensively heard in the summer vacation. The orders, running into over 200 pages each, were prepared beyond working hours consuming hundreds of judicial hours of the apex court alone. Justice Kehar expressed the considered view that “the legislature needs to give a thought to a very serious malady, which has made strong inroads into the Indian judicial system. The Indian judicial system is grossly afflicted with frivolous litigation.
Ways and means need to be evolved to deter litigants from their compulsive obsession towards senseless and ill-considered claims. One needs to keep in mind that, in the process of litigation, there is an innocent sufferer on the other side, of every irresponsible and senseless claim. He suffers long drawn anxious periods of nervousness and restlessness, whilst the litigation is pending, without any fault on his part. He pays for the litigation, from out of his savings (or out of his borrowings), worrying that the other side may trick him into defeat, for no fault of his. He spends invaluable time briefing counsel and preparing them for his claim. Time which he should have spent at work, or with his family, is lost, for no fault of his. Should a litigant not be compensated for what he has lost, for no fault? The suggestion to the legislature is that a litigant, who has succeeded, must be compensated by the one who has lost. The suggestion to the legislature is to formulate a mechanism that anyone who initiates and continues a litigation senselessly, pays for the same. It is suggested that the legislature should consider the introduction of a ‘Code of Compulsory Costs’.”
Justice Kehar’s words will certainly gladden the hearts of millions of Indians who are scared and beaten by the slow and expensive senselessness of our judicial system which has rendered justice meaningless. Fortunately, the learned judge goes on to add that the Court’s view should not be seen as a suggestion to increase the cost of litigation, but to stop the rampant practice of delaying and prolonging disputes through the abuse of judicial process.
Another interesting point made in the order was that the State and its agencies are the main culprits who litigate endlessly to avoid the responsibility of taking decisions. Consequently, all administrative and executive decisions are being left to the courts. According to Justice Kehar, there must be consequences to fighting on after having lost in every forum. The Sahara case, said the Court, was a classic example where SEBI had to fight on at public expense, although every one of its orders was “consistently and systematically disobeyed”. At the end of the day, Court’s time lost is a direct loss to the nation, says the judgement.
Every Indian is aware of the significance of the Supreme Court’s words in the Sahara case. Add to this the damage caused by retrospective legal amendments made popular by former finance minister P Chidambaram and India’s legal system has become a source of anxiety, persecution and uncertainty. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fortunately announced its intention to correct the damage caused by retrospective amendments. If Justice Kehar’s views are also taken on board to create a fair, administrative system that prime minister Narendra Modi had promised, we can hope for real rule of law to start working in India over a period of time.