The dream of hack-proof communication just got a little closer to reality. On August 16, 2016, China launched the world’s first “quantum satellite,” a project the Chinese government hopes will enable it to build a communication system incapable of being hacked. Such a system, if perfected, would allow for encrypted communications between any two devices with absolute certainty that the encryption could not be broken, and with a built-in mechanism for alerting the sender/receiver if someone tried.
The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) recently issued a 199-page report detailing the FBI’s use, and abuse, of national security letters (“NSLs”) to obtain information in the name of national security. The report cites repeated failures by the FBI to follow even the abbreviated procedures available under the current NSL regime for seeking customer and consumer records from communications providers, financial institutions, and credit agencies. The report reveals that the FBI’s failure both to provide consistent guidance regarding NSLs and adhere to internal oversight procedures has led to problems ranging from minor technical deficiencies in NSLs to the issuance of NSLs without proper authorization.