Senator John McCain Uses Cybersecurity Hearing To Try To Shame Twitter For Not Selling Data To The CIA
from the NO-ONE-CARES dept
John McCain -- fighting for the government's right to get all up in your everything -- has decided to embrace the "grumpy" part of his "grumpy old legislator" personality.
Back in July, McCain expressed his displeasure with Apple declining his invitation to show up and get yelled at/field false accusations at his hearing on encryption. He dourly noted that he was "seeking the widest variety of input," but his invited guests included Manhattan DA Cy Vance, a former Bush-era Homeland Security advisor and former NSA deputy director Chris Inglis. Not having Apple to kick around peeved McCain, who finished off the "discussion" with subpoena threats.
Another encryption hearing hosted by McCain devolved into the senator ranting about something no one cares about but him: a tech company not immediately prostrating itself in front of an intelligence agency. Here's Marcy Wheeler's summation of McCain's "contribution" to the discussion.
His tertiary point seems to have been to attack Apple and Twitter for making efforts to protect their customers. After getting a witness to comment about Twitter’s long-term refusal to let Dataminr to sell Twitter data to the CIA, he suggested perhaps the response should be to “expose” the company.
"Expose" how? This was "exposed" already, with the aftershocks of the exposure being "so what?" and "who cares?" Twitter simply enforced a pre-existing policy, pointing out to a third-party data mining company that it wasn't allowed to sell Twitter data to the government for surveillance use. This blocked the CIA from drinking from the Dataminr/Twitter firehose, which made the CIA sad and Twitter look stalwart and -- generally speaking -- didn't prevent the government from using any number of other methods to scoop up public tweets for surveillance purposes.
It also made McCain mad and he's still aching about it three months later. So, Wheeler has decided to help McCain out by publicizing Twitter's decision to hold a third-party social media data miner to the terms of its agreement with the government. Two more headlines have been added to her post, both breaking the news that was broken months ago and did little to appreciably nudge surveillance/outrage needles in any direction.
But it's still a big deal to McCain. He spent a little over two minutes (starting about 46:50 in the recording posted here) crafting his molehill into a mountain before cajoling NSA director Michael Rogers into answering what should have been a hypothetical question. While Admiral Rogers uncomfortably admitted he "didn't understand" why Twitter would enforce a pre-existing policy, McCain was unable to get anyone in the room to say anything on the record about "exposing" Twitter for its apparently nefarious decision to enforce the rules of Dataminr's agreement.
Wheeler has a better question:
Of course, you might ask why McCain is demanding that our tech companies to make money off of surveillance of you. And why he considers Twitter such an exception.