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united-states

Trump to nominate Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump was expected to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen, who as the top aide to his White House chief of staff has sought to instil order in Trump s team, to lead the U.S . Department of Homeland Security, a White House official said on Wednesday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Nielsen would take the reins at a sprawling department with more than 240,000 employees that is responsible for U.S . border and airport security, immigration policy, disaster response, refugee admissions and other matters.

Nielsen, 45, is a cybersecurity expert with a considerable resume in homeland security that includes work at the department s Transportation Security Administration and on Republican former President George W .

Bush s White House Homeland Security Council.

Nielsen was retired Marine Corps General John Kelly s chief of staff when he was secretary of Homeland Security during the opening months of Trump s presidency . Kelly brought her to the White House as his deputy when Trump named him chief of staff in July to replace Reince Priebus after only six months on the job.

The official announcement of her nomination could come as early as later on Wednesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity . The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Nielsen s departure from the White House would mark the latest upheaval in Trump s White House team . She was responsible for carrying out some of Kelly s orders on who gets access to the president . As a result, she has irritated some White House officials who now have limited contact with Trump.

Kelly has sought to bring more order to the chaotic West Wing since replacing Priebus . Trump has welcomed the changes to some extent, although he has privately confided to friends that the limitations on access to the Oval Office sometimes go too far.

Putting Nielsen into the Homeland Security post will allow Trump and Kelly to keep a close eye on the department, but getting her out of the White House could permit some relaxing of Kelly s strictness.

Cyber security is one of the primary issues under the Homeland Security Department s sprawling portfolio . Nielsen previously worked at a cyber think tank at George Washington University, blocks from the White House, and is considered well-versed in some of the more technical missions at the department, such as sharing cyber threat information with the private sector.

The department was created after the Sept .

11, 2001, attacks on the United States exposed cracks in the country s homeland security apparatus.

The appointment comes at a busy time for the department, with one of its agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, overseeing disaster relief in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida as well as wildfire-ravaged areas of California . The department also is responsible for U.S . border security.

The department is a major player in implementing Trump s aggressive stance toward deporting illegal immigrants, as well as vetting the lower number of refugees Trump has decided to allow into the United States.

It seems like a low-drama pick .

It s a little concerning that she seems to have little background in immigration security and policy, but those individual agencies are in good hands already, and there is a strong core of career managers, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours more limits on immigration.

Politico first reported the appointment.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Dustin Volz and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by James Dalgleish

Dutch government agreement increasingly focuses on IT security

After record setting negotiations, four parties have finally presented a coalition in the Netherlands. There are a fair number of cyber security measures in the preliminary agreement, which will serve as a guideline for the government s term for the coming years.

Following the elections of 15 March1, three of the four larger parties in the Netherlands started coalition talks a task that was viewed as difficult from the start.

Dutch Government Agreement Increasingly Focuses On IT Security

With the Liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats as the largest parties, it would be difficult to reach consensus with the biggest winner Green Lefts and the centre-democratic Democrats 66 (D66). After Green Lefts eventually dropped out of the coalition talks, a new attempt was made with the Christian Union, a painfully slow negotiation process that was concluded on 10 October with a coalition agreement.

As opposed to a few years ago, the new agreement has a rather large number of sections on IT security pointed out by many in the industry by counting the use of the term cyber , which appeared eight times in the 70-page document that outlines the new government s plans for the country over the next four years. An important factor for adding so much IT to the agenda would be D66, the centre party with MP Kees Verhoeven2 as a well-known spokesperson for the digital agenda.

Law on intelligence and security-agencies

Of particular interest in the agreement are amendments to the controversial law on intelligence and security agencies3, which will go fully into effect on 1 January 2018. A group of petitioners recently successfully collected enough signatures4 to start a national referendum to try to rescind the law, which would give intelligence agencies the power to use dragnet methods for collecting information on many people in a single area . Most criticism of the law revolves around the supervision of an accountability taskforce, of which some is too vague.

Even though the WiV will go into effect regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the new coalition has decided to evaluate the law within two years . If the supervision is indeed not enough, the law can be altered if necessary.

Use of zero days

Another controversial law, the Computer Criminality Act III, will also be slightly altered . Newly detailed plans in the agreement specifically mention the use of zero-days by law enforcement5, and gives stricter rules for police and intelligence agencies to use these. Specifically, zero-day-technology can only be bought and used if required for very specific cases . Also, vendors of such software will be screened by the Dutch national intelligence agency AIVD to make sure software is not also sold to dubious regimes . As with the WiV, this policy will now also be evaluated every two years, and law enforcement has to release statistics on the use of zero-days on a yearly basis.

A lot of these measures are seen as both good and bad by experts . Good, because a new evaluation clause has been added and several safeguards have been built in to prevent abuse . But privacy activists had hoped for more severe measures like scrapping parts of the laws entirely.

Investing in the country s digital capacity

The coalition plans to spend an extra ‘ 95m to lay out an ambitious cyber security agenda and to increase the country s digital capacity . The new funds will be divided among several departments like the Ministry of Security and Justice, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Interior. An extra investment of ‘ 275m a year will be put into digital forces within the Dutch army, starting 2020, to increase cyber capacity in the armed forces. A particularly increasing role will be designated for the National Cyber Security Center6 (NCSC), which advises the private sector on security practices and will be taking on a bigger role in preventing cyber crime and attacks in the future. Also new is the intention to make revenge porn illegal, or the posting online of pornographic material of an ex as a way of revenge after a bad breakup .

This would probably be broadened to any form of posting nudity online of other persons, though the agreement keeps the terms vague most likely to allow for interpretation. A particularly high-profile case of revenge porn dominated the Dutch technology news earlier this year, as a young girl sued Facebook for refusing to hand over information on who uploaded a video of her . The case got some international attention when Facebook, after a long legal battle, was ordered to hand the information over7 in 2015.

Storing of email addresses

Hidden away somewhere else in the agreement is the addition of email addresses in the Municipal Personal Records (the Basisregistratie Personen), with little more details given other than that email addresses will be stored safely and encrypted . There’s also a small line about increasing the security of DigiD, the digital login system Dutch citizens can use to login to government services to do their tax returns or view their student loans . There have been talks for years about replacing DigiD in favour of a new system called eID8, which has been in an experimental phase for a while but has not been rolled out yet.

Internet of things security standards

For suppliers, the coalition plans to introduce security standards for internet of things appliances9, though how these standards are to be implemented remains to be seen . This had been a longstanding wish of D66. The agreement also mentions a possible import ban for appliances that don t follow security practice, although was not detailed.

The coalition agreement is so far just an agreement the four main parties have set up, but it s far from definite . The new coalition will be small with a majority of only one, with 76 seats in a house of 150. The parties ideals are also far apart, so only a few dissidents in the coalition might mean a law could fail to pass.

However, after more than eight months of negotiations, Dutch MPs will probably not be looking for hard internal clashing.

References

  1. ^ the elections of 15 March (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Kees Verhoeven (twitter.com)
  3. ^ controversial law on intelligence and security agencies (pilpnjcm.nl)
  4. ^ successfully collected enough signatures (nltimes.nl)
  5. ^ the use of zero-days by law enforcement (www.computerweekly.com)
  6. ^ National Cyber Security Center (www.ncsc.nl)
  7. ^ was ordered to hand the information over (www.computerweekly.com)
  8. ^ a new system called eID (joinup.ec.europa.eu)
  9. ^ introduce security standards for internet of things appliances (searchsecurity.techtarget.com)

Fatah, Hamas to discuss security in Gaza under unity deal

GAZA/RAMALLAH (Reuters) – Negotiators from rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Islamist group Hamas will discuss security in the Gaza Strip at unity talks in Cairo on Tuesday, including a proposal that would see Fatah security personnel deployed to Hamas-dominated territory.

The plan for 3,000 Fatah security officers to join a Gaza police force over the course of a year, part of a unity deal mediated by Egypt in 2011, would restore much of the influence of Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza and further loosen Hamas grip.

The deal was never implemented.

The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of the enclave to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007 .

The loss damaged Abbas credibility in the eyes of the West and Israel, after years of being their main Palestinian diplomatic counterpart.

But under Egypt s mediation, major steps have been made towards narrowing rifts since Hamas handed administrative powers in Gaza to a Fatah-backed government last month.

The move was a major reversal for Hamas and was partially prompted by the group s fears of potential financial and political isolation after its main donor Qatar suffered a major diplomatic crisis with key allies.

The sides will discuss the security issue, especially in Gaza, in the way that serves the home front, enforces the rule of law in a professional and national way and is not factional, said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

The deal would see Hamas, which has the most powerful armed Palestinian faction with an estimated 25,000 well-equipped fighters who have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

The issue of arms of resistance is not up for discussion, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters .

Israel s enmity with Hamas means greater unity with Fatah is unlikely to help any future efforts for a peace deal with Israel.

But both sides hope that the deal s proposed deployment of security personnel from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to Gaza s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to ease their tight restrictions at border crossings, a badly needed step to help Gaza revive its economy and improve the living standards of its two million residents.

Officials said that apart from the implementation of the 2011 agreement and security, the Cairo talks would also cover issues such as setting a date for presidential and legislative elections and reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is in charge of long-stalled peace efforts with Israel.

What happened in the past days is something like a declaration of principles while the two sides have postponed final status issues to the talks in Cairo, said Gaza political analyst Akram Attallah.

Abbas has pledged there would be one authority, one law, one administration, one weapon in the Gaza Strip, a statement seeming to challenge Hamas continued security dominance.

But Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Reuters: There are difficult challenges and it will take time to overcome them.

Outstanding issues include the fate of 40,000 to 50,000 employees hired by Hamas over the past 10 years and its demand Abbas lift economic sanctions he imposed in recent months to try to pressure the group to compromise.

Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Raissa Kasolowsky