Congressional Study Concludes Strong Encryption Important for Economy

Today's topics include the congressional report that calls for stronger encryption and decryption capabilities for law enforcement, why container storage vendor ClusterHQ shut down, Orlando shooting victims' families' plan to sue Google, Facebook and Twitter and a five-year IT consulting contract between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The United States needs to continue to support strong encryption or risk undermining the digital economy, according to a bi-partisan congressional report released Dec. 20.

The Encryption Working Group Year-End Report summarizes the conclusions of a nearly year-long investigation by members of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee.

While finding that “any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest,” the report also concluded that Congress needs to consider legislation that could help law enforcement gain access to encrypted data during investigations and work with technology companies to find solutions.

Container storage vendor ClusterHQ announced on Dec. 22 that it is shutting down the company's operations, effective immediately. ClusterHQ raised $18 million in venture capital funding to help fuel its efforts to build a commercially supported stateful container storage technology.

Stateful containers are capable of keeping track of the status of objects that are being accessed by clients to prevent more than one client at a time from updating an object.

In a blog post, ClusterHQ CEO Mark Davis wrote that today it seems like everyone is talking about stateful containers. Among the recent moves in container storage, Docker Inc. acquired container storage vendor Infinit on December 6.

"For a confluence of reasons, the ClusterHQ board of directors, of which I am chairman, have decided it best to immediately shut down company operations," Davis wrote. "We are proud of many accomplishments, not least of which is leaving behind an outstanding body of open source software which is actively used by many in the container ecosystem."

For the second time in six months, Google along with Facebook and Twitter are targets of a lawsuit accusing them of providing material support for terrorists.

The first time was in June, when the father of a man killed in the terror attacks in Paris last year, accused the three Internet companies of allowing extremist groups to use their platforms for propaganda purposes while profiting from it.

This time, the lawsuit is from families of three victims of the terror attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where a single gunman killed 49 people in June.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the families of Juan Guerrero, Javier Jorge-Reyes and Tevin Crosby accused Google, Facebook and Twitter of "knowingly and recklessly" providing ISIS with accounts for spreading terror propaganda, raising funds and finding new recruits.

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Microsoft a five-year contract worth $937 million for technical support and consulting service, the Pentagon announced on Dec. 20.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will provide the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) with Microsoft Enterprise Technical Support Services from so-called "Blue Badges," which are staff members on the company's payroll rather than contract workers.

Microsoft will be required to provide these services in the continental U.S., but provisions exist for the Redmond, Wash. to assist overseas Defense Department operations as the need arises.