U.S. Security Clearance Backlog, Verizon to Lock Down Phones, Drones in Law Enforcement, and More

U.S. Security Clearance Backlog, Verizon to Lock Down Phones, Drones in Law Enforcement, and More
  • The U.S. Trump administration and the FBI are both sidestepping blame for a backlog of more than 700,000 security clearances, CBS News reports. The unprocessed clearances under the current White House came to light after the resignation of Rob Porter, who faces domestic abuse allegations. At least a dozen top officials are working under an "interim security clearance," including the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Porter before his departure. Chris Swecker, former assistant FBI director, says the backlog points to a "breakdown in the security clearance system.​" This morning on Capitol Hill, FBI Director Christopher Wray is set to testify about the clearance process before the Senate Intelligence Committee.​​

  • Wireless carrier Verizon says it's taking steps to combat phone theft by locking down its devices for a certain period of time after purchase–a practice that is in keeping with the rest of the industry. This prevents consumers from using a SIM card from another carrier in the phone. "Unlocked phones make attractive targets because they can be resold on the black market or used overseas with different carriers. That's particularly the case for iPhones, which are a top target for thieves because of their high resale value," CNET reports. Verizon plans to implement the changes in the spring.

  • Law enforcement is increasingly turning to drones for search and rescue operations, as well as dangerous situations where officers need to maintain a safe distance, The Washington Post reports. In Cocoa Beach, Florida, police closely monitored a woman waving a pistol in a parking lot with a drone in a four-hour standoff. Loudon County, Virginia, police used a quadcopter drone recently to search for a 92 year-old man missing in the woods; his orange cap was spotted and rescue coordinates were delivered after just 20 minutes of flying time. The Stanford County Sheriff's Office in Virginia has invested in five drones and has 12 officers certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

  • In other news, Donald Trump Jr.'s wife, Vanessa Trump, was hospitalized as a precaution after she opened an envelope sent to her house containing suspicious white powder. After investigating, the NYPD said the substance opened by U.S. President Trump's daughter-in-law was nonhazardous. Reuters reports that Amazon paid $90 million to acquire security camera company Blink. The cameras are operated by AA batteries and contain energy-efficient chips.​