(Reuters) – New York City politicians are expected to vote next week to force the largest police force in the United States to divulge the surveillance technology it uses, one of many reforms of law enforcement being considered across the country.
FILE PHOTO: New York Police Department (NYPD) officers are pictured as protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
City council members will vote on June 18 on a long-delayed oversight bill that would force the New York Police Department to give details about its surveillance tools, the council’s speaker’s office said on Friday.
The Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act already has enough co-sponsors to win the two-thirds support needed to override veto from the mayor, who has opposed the bill.
“New Yorkers deserve to know the type of surveillance that NYPD uses in communities and its impacts,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement.
Like other proposed police reforms, the POST Act has been in limbo for years. Backers said anger over the death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis and its aftermath helped push the legislation forward.
Similar rules exist in other cities, but politicians and privacy advocates said a surveillance audit for the NYPD was likely to have a particularly significant effect.
“It’s by far the biggest police force with by far the biggest budget,” council member Brad Lander, who backs the bill, told Reuters. He said it would empower citizens elsewhere “to go to their municipalities and ask, ‘Are you using this too?’”
The NYPD, which did not return messages seeking comment, has vehemently opposed the bill. In 2017, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said it would “require us to advertise sensitive technologies that criminals and terrorists do not fully understand.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. Although he has fought the bill in the past, on Thursday he told (here) a reporter asking whether he supported it that he needed “to see the specifics before I can give you an answer.”
Activists and experts have already catalogued (here) a vast array of NYPD surveillance technology.
TerraHawk towers keep an eye on certain neighborhoods, ShotSpotter microphones listen for sounds of gunfire from rooftops or light poles, and unmarked X-Ray vans prowl the streets scanning cars and buildings.
The city’s sprawling network of cameras, license plate readers, and chemical and radiation meters has been stitched into a Microsoft Corp.-supported platform called the Domain Awareness System.
Lawyer Albert Fox Cahn, who directs the New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said allowing citizens to understand how police watch over them would help curb abusive surveillance – and abuses more generally.
“There’s a straight line through to this intrusive surveillance to unnecessary police stops to the kind of tragic violence we saw in Minneapolis,” Cahn said.
Reporting by Raphael Satter; additional reporting from Jack Stubbs in London; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall
KKR passes $11bn for fourth flagship Asia fundraise, could raise $12.5bn – report
KKR has hauled in more than $11bn through the first close of its latest mammoth Asia private equity fund, putting it wel
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NY Charges First American Financial for Massive Data Leak
In May 2019, KrebsOnSecurity broke the news that the website of mortgage title insurance giant First American Financial Corp. had exposed approximately 885 million records related to mortgage deals going back to 2003. On Wednesday, regulators in New York announced that First American was the target of their first ever cybersecurity enforcement action in connection with the incident, charges that could bring steep financial penalties.
Santa Ana, Calif.-based First American [NYSE:FAF] is a leading provider of title insurance and settlement services to the real estate and mortgage industries. It employs some 18,000 people and brought in $6.2 billion in 2019.
As first reported here last year, First American’s website exposed 16 years worth of digitized mortgage title insurance records — including bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images.
The documents were available without authentication to anyone with a Web browser.
According to a filing (PDF) by the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), the weakness that exposed the documents was first introduced during an application software update in May 2014 and went undetected for years.
Worse still, the DFS found, the vulnerability was discovered in a penetration test First American conducted on its own in December 2018.
“Remarkably, Respondent instead allowed unfettered access to the personal and financial data of millions of its customers for six more months until the breach and its serious ramifications were widely publicized by a nationally recognized cybersecurity industry journalist,” the DFS explained in a statement on the charges.
Reuters reports that the penalties could be significant for First American: The DFS considers each instance of exposed personal information a separate violation, and the company faces penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
In a written statement, First American said it strongly disagrees with the DFS’s findings, and that its own investigation determined only a “very limited number” of consumers — and none from New York — had personal data accessed without permission.
In August 2019, the company said a third-party investigation into the exposure identified just 32 consumers whose non-public personal information likely was accessed without authorization.
When KrebsOnSecurity asked last year how long it maintained access logs or how far back in time that review went, First American declined to be more specific, saying only that its logs covered a period that was typical for a company of its size and nature.
But in Wednesday’s filing, the DFS said First American was unable to determine whether records were accessed prior to Jun 2018.
“Respondent’s forensic investigation relied on a review of web logs retained from June 2018 onward,” the DFS found. “Respondent’s own analysis demonstrated that during this 11-month period, more than 350,000 documents were accessed without authorization by automated ‘bots’ or ‘scraper’ programs designed to collect information on the Internet.
The records exposed by First American would have been a virtual gold mine for phishers and scammers involved in so-called Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams, which often impersonate real estate agents, closing agencies, title and escrow firms in a bid to trick property buyers into wiring funds to fraudsters. According to the FBI, BEC scams are the most costly form of cybercrime today.
First American’s stock price fell more than 6 percent the day after news of their data leak was published here. In the days that followed, the DFS and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission each announced they were investigating the company.
First American released its first quarter 2020 earnings today. A hearing on the charges alleged by the DFS is slated for Oct. 26.
Coinbase Reportedly Eyeing Stock Exchange Listing in Latest Power Move
U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase might be going public if reports from inside sources are to be believed.
The San Francisco-based company has undergone a significant evolution since its inception eight years ago but remains one of the major players in the cryptocurrency exchange scene.
Coinbase Going Public?
According to Reuters, inside sources at Coinbase say the exchange is exploring the possibility of a stock exchange listing. The platform could pursue the move later in the year. Or at the start of 2021.
There’s no official confirmation yet as Coinbase has not notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). However, anonymous sources told Reuters that Coinbase is working on modalities behind the scene, including arrangements with law firms and investment bankers.
A U.S. stock exchange listing could further catapult Coinbase’s valuation in what would be the latest in a string of power moves by the giant exchange. Back in October 2018, the platform raised $300M in a Series E funding round, which took the company’s valuation to $8 billion.
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 9, 2020
Unconfirmed reports suggest Coinbase might opt for a direct listing instead of an initial public offering (IPO). If confirmed, the move will eliminate the need for potentially expensive underwriters and lockup agreements that come with the dilution of shares in an IPO.
Coinbase’s reported IPO plans reveal an emerging theme for major crypto businesses. From mining firms to cryptocurrency hedge funds, public listings appear to be the next logical step in the evolution of big virtual currency companies, especially against the backdrop of increased institutional investment.
Mining giants like Bitmain and Canaan pursued IPO plans in the past, with the latter scrapping its underwhelming share sale back in late 2019. The Canaan IPO, too, only raised $90M out of a $400M projection. Meanwhile, Bitmain has had to endure a couple of its own false starts.
At the start of 2020, the Grayscale
BUY NOW Trust (GBTC) also obtained SEC approval to act as a reporting company.
From Crypto Exchange to Digital Asset Business
Apart from its exchange services, Coinbase now hosts other business elements like custody and commerce. The latter tool allows businesses to easily accept crypto payments. It already has over 8,000 merchant customers. In May, Coinbase announced plans to acquire Tagomi, a crypto brokerage firm.
The move signaled further intentions to pivot towards institutional players. The exchange reportedly holds over 1 million BTC. Coinbase has radically shifted its strategy over the last few years. Initially sticking to a limited token listing regime, the exchange now has a more liberal policy towards altcoins.
The platform lists 27 different assets and in mid-June, it announced plans to consider 18 more tokens.
Some of these listings resulted in parabolic price spikes which just as quickly disappeared. Critics have consequently handed down some heavy comments regarding its new listing policy, particularly for tokens associated with the Digital Currency Group (DCG).
Despite their relatively small market cap, these ‘coins’ found their way to the Coinbase trading catalog prompting critics to label the listing as rather questionable. On separate occasions, #DeleteCoinbase and #BoycottCoinbase were trending on Twitter.
The company’s acquisition of controversial analytics firm Neutrino also sparked outrage in the crypto community owing to Neutrino’s association with government-sanctioned spyware programs.
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This article is intended as news or presented for informational purposes only. The topic of the article and information provided could potentially impact the value of a digital asset or cryptocurrency but is never intended to do so. Likewise, the content of the article and information provided within is not intended to, and does not, present sufficient information for the purposes of making a financial decision or investment. This article is explicitly not intended to be financial advice, is not financial advice, and should not be construed as financial advice. The content and information provided in this article were not prepared by a certified financial professional. All readers should always conduct their own due diligence with a certified financial professional before making any investment decisions. The author of this article may, at the time of its writing, hold any amount of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, other digital currency, or financial instruments — including but not limited to any that appear in the contents of this article.
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